By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: An Account of the Bell Rock Light-House - Including the Details of the Erection and Peculiar Structure of That Edifice; to Which Is Prefixed a Historical View of the Institution and Progress of the Northern Light-Houses
Author: Stevenson, Robert Louis
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Account of the Bell Rock Light-House - Including the Details of the Erection and Peculiar Structure of That Edifice; to Which Is Prefixed a Historical View of the Institution and Progress of the Northern Light-Houses" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Internet Archive (https://archive.org)

      file which includes the remarkable original illustrations.
      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive. See

Transcriber's note

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      Text enclosed by tilde characters is underlined

      A carat character is used to denote superscription. A
      single character following the carat is superscripted
      (example: THO^S).



Drawn by J. M. W. Turner R. A.

Engraved by J. Horsburgh.]


Including the Details of the Erection and Peculiar Structure
of That Edifice.

To Which Is Prefixed a Historical View of the Institution and
Progress of the Northern Light-Houses.

Illustrated with Twenty-Three Engravings.

Drawn Up by Desire of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-Houses,



Civil Engineer;

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh;
Member of the Society of Scotish Antiquaries, of the
Wernerian Natural History Society,
and of the Geological Society of London;

Engineer to the Northern Light-House Board, and to the Convention
of Royal Boroughs of Scotland.

Printed for Archibald Constable & Co. Edinburgh;
Hurst, Robinson & Co. 90. Cheapside; and Josiah Taylor, 50. High





_It is with much diffidence that the author now lays before Your
Majesty, an Account of the arduous national undertaking of erecting a
Light-house on the Bell Rock,--a sunk reef, lying about eleven miles
from the shore, and so situated as to have long proved an object of
dread to mariners on the eastern coast of Scotland, especially when
making for the Friths of Forth and Tay._

_This edifice being of the utmost consequence to the safety of
Your Majesty’s Ships of War upon the North Sea station, and of the
commercial shipping of this part of the empire, he presumes to hope
for Your Majesty’s favourable acceptance of his work. From the known
partiality, also, of Your Majesty for naval excursions, which so
recently led the Royal Squadron within a comparatively short distance
of the Bell Rock Light-house, in the course of Your Majesty’s most
gracious Visit to your ancient Kingdom of Scotland, he flatters himself
that Your Majesty may feel an additional interest in the subject of
this volume._

_The Introduction to this work brings generally under Your Majesty’s
notice, the important labours of the Scottish Light-house Board,
appointed by an act of the 26th Parliament of Your Majesty’s
illustrious FATHER. Since that period, Light-house stations have been
partially extended over the whole northern shores of Your Majesty’s
British dominions, from Inchkeith in the Frith of Forth, to the Isle
of Man in the Irish Sea, including in this circuit the Hebrides, and
Orkney and Shetland Islands. Much, however, still remains to be done;
and the Board is gradually proceeding, as the state of its funds will
permit, in placing additional Sea-Lights on certain intermediate points
of the coast._

_It cannot fail to be gratifying to Your Majesty to learn, as the
result of the exertions of this Board, that the mariner may now
navigate those regions with a degree of security and confidence quite
unknown to Your Majesty’s Royal Ancestor JAMES THE FIFTH, when he
sailed around this coast in the 16th century, or even, at a recent
period, to Your Majesty’s Royal Brother WILLIAM HENRY Duke of Clarence,
when in early life he traversed those seas._

_With unfeigned sentiments of loyalty and attachment, the author
subscribes himself,_

 Most devoted Subject and Servant,





 Early Voyages of the Scots. Extension of Trade. Charts of the Coast. 1-4

 1786. Proposition for the establishment of a Light-house Board in
 Scotland. Original act passed in 1786. Commissioners appointed.
 First Meeting of the Board. Mode of raising Funds.                   5-6

 1787. Kinnaird-Head and Mull of Kintyre Light-houses.                6-8

 1788. Light Duty found to be too small. Act of 1788.                   9

 1789. Island Glass, North Ronaldsay, and Pladda Light-houses.
 Collectors of the Light-Duties appointed.                          10-11

 1791. Pladda distinguishing Light. Annual Supply and Inspection
 of the Light-houses. Light-keepers’ Salary. Economical plan of
 early Light-houses.                                                12-14

 1793. Application for Additional Lights. State of the Light-house
 Funds.                                                             14-15

 1794. Pentland Skerry Light-house. Writer’s first Voyage to the
 North. Loss of the Sloop Elizabeth. Mr Balfour and Mr Riddoch
 of Orkney presented with Pieces of Plate.                          15-17

 Act Incorporating the Commissioners into a Board or Body Politic.
 Additional works at the Light-houses already built. Proposition
 for altering Kinnaird-Head Light-house.                            18-19

 1801. Numerous Shipwrecks on the Island of Sanday. Proofs of a
 severe winter in Orkney. Quarries at Sanday and Eda. Encroachments
 of the Sea. Remarks on Ruble Building, and Houses with double
 walls. Foundation-Stone of Start Point Light-house laid. Reverend
 Walter Traill’s Address upon this occasion.                        19-23

 1803. Inchkeith Light-house. Originally proposed as a Leading
 Light. Duty for Inchkeith modified. Light-keepers Accommodations
 extended. Construction of Light-rooms and Reflectors improved.
 Inscription upon Inchkeith Light-house. Pilot’s guard-room.
 Shipwrecked Seamen sheltered.                                      24-29

 1806. Start-Point Light exhibited, and North Ronaldsay Light-house
 converted into a Beacon. List of 22 Shipwrecks on the Island of
 Sanday, in the course of Twelve Years. Foreman and Artificers lost
 in the Traveller. Captain Manby’s Apparatus,                       30-34

 Island of May Light-house. Patent ratified 1641; the Duty for
 that Light complained of after the Union. Family of Scotstarvet
 become Proprietors. Chamber of Commerce get that Light improved.
 Portland Family become Proprietors. Loss of the Nymphen
 and Pallas Frigates. Lord Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty,
 applies to the Light-house Board, by whom the Duties and Island
 of May are purchased. Additional apartments provided at the
 Isle of May. Notice of the alteration of this Light and that of
 Inchkeith. Pilot’s guard-room.                                     36-41

 1815. Corsewall Light-house. Foundation-stone laid. Light
 exhibited.                                                         42-44

 1818. Isle of Man Light-houses. Writer’s Report in the year 1802,
 relative to the erection of Light-houses on the Isle of Man. Trade
 of Liverpool applies to the Commissioners to erect them. Act of
 1815, obtained by Sir W. Rae, with regard to these Lights.
 Difficulty of fixing their Sites. Lights exhibited 1st February
 1818. Sum expended by the Light-house Board, on the East Coast,
 in the course of 10 years.                                         44-48

 1821. Sumburgh-head Light exhibited. This House built with double
 walls,                                                                52

 Carr Rock Beacon. List of 16 vessels wrecked there in the course of
 nine years. Floating-Buoy moored off this dangerous Reef. Beacon
 of Masonry designed, with Tide-machine and Bell-apparatus.
 Dimensions of Carr Rock. Difficulties of this work. It is frequently
 damaged in Storms. The upper part ultimately completed
 with cast-iron, without the Alarm-Bell.                            56-62

 Duties exigible. Expence of Management. Accounts of the Light-house
 Board made public. Application of the Funds, and disposal
 of the Surplus. Practical Management.                              63-64





 Origin of the Names Inch-Cape and Bell Rock. Tradition of a Bell
 erected by one of the Abbots of Aberbrothock.                      67-68

 Situation, Dimensions, and Mineralogy of the Rock. Wasting effects
 of the Sea. Proofs of its having occupied a higher Level.          69-71

 Plants, Animals, Insect destructive to Timber. Experiment with
 pieces of Timber fixed to the Rock. Mussels attempted to be
 planted upon it. Habits of Fishes.                                 72-74

 Depth of Water upon the Rock, and at the distance of 100 yards
 from it. Tides at the Rock. Not accounted for by Writers on the
 subject. Progress of the great Waves of the Tide. Periods of
 High-water at different places in the Frith of Forth. Currents at
 the Mouth of the River Dee. Water salt at bottom and fresh at top.
 Phenomenon of _in_ and _off_ shore Tides. Tides of Mediterranean
 and Baltic Seas.                                                   75-81



 Dangerous Position of the Rock. Sir Alexander Cochrane’s Letter to
 the Light-house Board. Great Storm in 1799. Expence of the
 Light-house, as estimated by the Public. Designs by Captain Brodie
 and Mr Cooper. Captain Brodie’s remuneration. The Writer’s first
 visit to the Rock in the year 1800. Pillar-formed Building compared
 with one of Stone. Mr Telford requested to give a Design. Mr
 Downie’s Pillar-formed Design.                                     81-93

 Bell Rock Light-house proposed at the Convention of Royal Burghs.
 Lord Advocate Hope’s Bill is lost in the House of Lords in 1803.   94-95

 The Light-house Board consults Mr Rennie, who visits the Rock with
 Mr Hamilton, and the Writer. The Commissioners take the sense of
 certain Ports relative to the measure. Reports of the Traders in
 Leith and Berwick. Resolution of the Board to apply again to
 Parliament.                                                        94-98

 Lord Advocate Erskine’s Bill 1806. Mr Hamilton and the Writer
 go to London on this business. Loan from Government doubtful.
 Board of Trade favourable to the Loan. Memorial to the Board
 of Trade. Sir Joseph Banks’s exertions. Bill read first and
 second times. Report brought up by Sir John Sinclair. Report
 of the Committee. Bill meets with some opposition at the third
 reading, but is passed.                                          100-105

 CHAP. III.--1807.


 The Act provides for the mooring of a Floating-Light. Fishing
 Dogger purchased, fitted out and moored, under the direction
 of a Committee of the Trinity-House of Leith, and named the
 Pharos. Peculiar construction of her Lanterns and Moorings.
 She sails for her station. A Committee from Arbroath joins the
 party at the Isle of May. Is anchored in a temporary birth. Her
 moorings unexpectedly slip over-board, and are recovered with
 much difficulty. Description of the Pharos.                      107-114

 Commencement of the Operations at the Rock. Sloop Smeaton.
 Positions of the Beacon and Light-house fixed upon. First
 trip of the Artificers to the Rock on the 7th August. Rate of
 Wages. Letter from Aberdeen Masons. Lines from Dibdin.           115-120

 Erection of the Beacon-House. Work commenced 18th August.
 Method of fixing iron-bats into the Rock. Landing-master’s
 duty. Indications of the state of the Weather. Dangerous
 situation of the Rock in Foggy weather. Artificers amuse
 themselves with fishing while the Rock is under water. The
 fixing of the Smith’s Forge completed. Valuable services of the
 Smiths on the Bell Rock. Much wanted at the Edystone. The Seals
 desert the Rock.                                                 120-126

 Hampered state of the Artificers on ship-board. Inconveniencies
 of the Pharos as a Tender. Difficulty of getting on board.
 Artificers become expert rowers. Their rations of Provisions.
 “Saturday-Night at Sea.”                                         127-130

 Reasons for continuing the works upon the Rock during part of
 Sundays. Preparations for having Prayers on deck. Prayer
 composed by the Reverend Dr A. Brunton. Some of the Artificers
 decline working on Sunday. Additional Pay for Sunday’s work.     131-135

 Artificers work knee-deep in water during neap-tides. Operations
 at the Rock entirely confined to the Beacon. Description of the
 operation of boring holes in the Rock. Difficult situation of
 the Smiths.                                                      135-137

 Wind-Gauge much wanted, to afford a better nomenclature to
 Seamen. Difficult passage with the boats from the Rock to
 the Tender. Life-Buoy streamed on this occasion. A Tender is
 ordered exclusively for the service of the Rock. Some of the
 Artificers apply for leave ashore. Landing made upon the Rock
 after a gale.                                                    138-141

 Method of fixing the great iron-stanchions into the Rock.
 Longest day’s work hitherto had upon it. Smeaton brings
 off a cargo of stones for making the experiment of landing
 them. Various methods suggested for this critical operation.
 Stones first landed on the Rock. Mode originally adopted
 for attaching the Stone-lighters to their moorings. Smeaton
 breaks adrift. Perilous situation of those on the Rock.
 Pilot-boat fortunately comes to their relief. The Boats have
 a rough passage to the Floating-light. The Smeaton bears away
 for Arbroath. Indispensable utility of the Beacon-house.
 Eighteen of the Artificers decline embarking for the Rock.
 The boats, nevertheless, proceed with the remaining eight.
 Captain Pool’s account of the drifting of the Smeaton,           142-152

 The comparative level of the site of the Building
 ascertained. Full complement of Buoys moored. Floating-light
 rides out a strong gale. State of the vessel. The Writer
 consults with the Officers of the ship relative to the
 probable effect of her breaking adrift. The gale takes off.
 Appearance of the Sea on the Rock. The Floating-light breaks
 adrift. Her cables supposed to have been cut by a piece of
 wreck. Difficulty of managing this vessel. She is anchored
 and moored in a new station. Her Light is first exhibited on
 the 15th of September 1807.                                      153-164

 Light-house Yacht for a time becomes the Tender at the Rock.
 Artificers agree to continue on board of her beyond the term
 of their engagement. An accident happens to one of the Boats.    164-165

 The Smeaton arrives at the Rock, 18th September, with the
 Beams of the Beacon-house. Preparations made, and four of the
 principal ones erected. Method of raising them, and fixing
 the great Iron-Stanchions. Seven hours’ work upon the Rock
 in one ebb-tide. The remaining two principal, and four of the
 supporting beams, erected.                                       166-171

 The Boats have some difficulty in leaving the Rock. Shipping
 dispersed in a gale. Land again after an absence of four
 days. Smith’s Forge removed from the Rock to the Beacon.
 Writer lands at Arbroath, after having been four weeks
 afloat.                                                          172-174

 The vessels are again separated in a gale. A landing effected
 at the Rock. State of the Beacon. Working hours extended.
 Beacon-works finished for the season. Mr John Rennie, and his
 son Mr George, visit the Rock. Number of days during which
 the Artificers were at work.                                     175-180

 Progress of Operations in the Work-yard. Writer visits the
 Rock 22d November. State of the Beacon. Professor Playfair’s
 observations about the unlocking of Screws. State of the
 Floating-light.                                                  181-188

 CHAP. IV.--1808.


 Praam-boats built with a water-tight ceiling or lining.
 Method of mooring the Praam-boats. Attending boats, one of
 which is fitted up as a Life-boat.                               187-188

 Railways, Waggons, Sheer-crane, Moveable-beam-crane,
 Sling-cart, Carpenters’ Jack, Lewis-bat, Moulds, Coffer-dam,
 Pumps, Winch-machine.                                            189-196

 Mineralogy of eastern coast. Report of Messrs Rennie and
 Stevenson, about Stone. The use of Granite resolved upon.
 Mortar of the Ancients. Attention of the Moderns to this
 subject. Mortar of the Edystone and Bell Rock, Lime,
 Pozzolano, Sand, Water, Cement. Oaken trenails, and Wedges.      196-204

 The Writer visits the Rock 30th March. Floating-light’s crew.
 Light comparatively feeble. Landing at the Rock difficult.
 State of the Beacon. Propriety of converting it into a
 Barrack. Bread and Water chest. Advantages of the Beacon to
 Shipping.                                                        205-208

 Impress-service affects the Operations. Protection-Medal
 and Descriptive Ticket. Light-house Yacht on the station as
 a Tender. Preparatory works. Use of Granite restricted to
 lower courses of the building. Use of Sandstone extended. Mr
 Skene’s contract for supplying Granite.                          209-212

 The Sir Joseph Banks Schooner takes her station as Tender
 at the Rock. The Writer begins the operations of the season
 25th May. State of the Foundation-pit. Difficult landing.
 It is found necessary to excavate the Rock further, to a
 greater depth. Artificers much afflicted with sea-sickness.
 Misunderstanding about their Pay. Sailors men of all-works,      212-218

 Mortar Gallery fitted up. Smeaton ballasted from the Bell
 Rock. Fish caught in great abundance.                            218-219

 First entire course completed in the hewing, and laid on
 the platform in the Work-yard at Arbroath, on the 4th June.
 Its cubical contents. Certainty of commencing the building
 operations this season. Arrangements with the artificers. How
 employed. Interesting appearance of the Rock. They remain
 there all day. Tender bears away for Leith Roads. The work
 is continued on the Rock till midnight. Its appearance.
 Artificers backward in landing, owing to the appearance of
 the weather.                                                     220-226

 First entire course of the building removed from the
 platform, to be shipped for the Rock, 14th June. Trial of the
 Landing apparatus. Fifty Artificers land. Small ruble-walls
 built instead of coffer-dam. Advantages of a Bell as a signal
 in foggy weather. Force of the Sea upon the Rock. Artificers
 sail for Arbroath. Pay and premiums of the Artificers this
 month. They embark again for the Rock on the return of
 Spring-tides. How employed.                                      227-235

 Foundation-stone prepared, landed at high-water. Laid 10th
 July, with masonic ceremony.                                     235-237

 Price of Granite advanced. A raft of Timber goes adrift.
 State of things at night on extinguishing the torches at the
 Rock. First or foundation course, consisting of 18 stones,
 finished 26th July. Force of habit exemplified in landing on
 the Rock. Cargo of the first entire course landed 28th July.
 The Smeaton makes a second trip in twenty hours. 4 stones
 are laid. Advantage of cranes compared with sheer-poles. Mr
 Smeaton’s plan in the use of trenails and wedges followed.       239-244

 A party of gentlemen have a narrow escape at the Rock. First
 entire course completed 12th August. One of the artificers
 disabled in the work-yard at Arbroath. He receives an
 annuity. Granite stones much wanted for the work. Second
 entire course completed. Pumping of water discontinued at the
 Rock 10th September. One of the artificers, by an accidental
 bruise, loses a finger. Progress of the works stopped for
 want of Granite. The Building brought to a level with the
 higher parts of the Rock.                                        244-249

 Great difficulty of landing. Two stones are loosened by the
 force of the Sea. Praam-boats ride out a gale with great
 ease. 31 stones laid in 6½ hours. One of the boats cannot
 be got out of the eastern-creek. 15 stones laid. Weather very
 boisterous. Engineer’s Clerk most active.                        250-253

 Unfortunate loss of James Scott, a sailor. His mother gets a
 small annuity. 17 stones laid. Building closed for the season
 21st September. Summary of Operations. Shipping dispersed
 in a gale. State of things at the Rock after the gale. The
 Writer sails on his annual trip to the Northern Light-houses.
 Visits the Bell Rock on his return. Arrangements for the
 Winter months.                                                   253-256

 CHAP. V.--1809.


 Railways injured. Bracing-chains unlocked. Proofs of strong
 currents in the Sea. Travellers or Drift-stones found
 upon the Rock. Progress of works in the Yard at Arbroath.
 Exertions in the Quarries. Captain Calder’s letter to Mr
 Stevenson. Drift-stones removed. Joisting of platform lifted.
 A vessel in danger of being wrecked at the Rock. Cast-iron
 anchors.                                                         257-262

 Purchase of sloop Patriot. Floating-Light encounters
 heavy Seas. 12th course completed by the stone-cutters.
 Employment of Shipping. Patriot condemned. Opinion of
 Mr Solicitor-General Boyle. Two Praam-boats launched.
 Floating-light under the charge of Mr John Reid. Two sets of
 moorings laid down. Tender slips her moorings. Other three
 sets of moorings are laid down.                                  263-266

 Artificers cannot land. The sailors account for the unsettled
 state of the weather. The Writer visits the Rock 1st May.
 Some timber is landed. Tender in danger of drifting upon the
 Rock. Joiners and millwrights get high premiums. Works make
 rapid progress. One of the floating-buoys gets water-logged.
 Great exertions made to complete the circular reach of the
 railway laid round the Building. Attempt made to erect a
 crane.                                                           266-271

 The Smeaton sails for the Rock with the first cargo of stones
 this season. Floating-Light’s moorings examined. State of
 her moorings. Plants and Animals observed on the building.
 Builders commence operations 27th May. Lay 5 stones. Tender
 rides out a hard gale. Apparatus on the Rock, and state of
 the Sea, viewed from a boat at a distance. Landing very
 difficult. State of the Weather.                                  272-277

 Zeal of the Writer’s Assistants. Eleven Artificers left upon
 the Beacon. They encounter a severe gale. The Tender at
 this time is very uncomfortable. Artificers relieved. Mr P.
 Logan’s account of the Beacon during the gale. James Glen’s
 exertions. State of matters at the Rock after the gale.
 Tender obliged to leave her station. Progress of the works
 at Arbroath. Patriot slips her moorings. Artificers divided
 into squads. Shipping belonging to the Light-house service.
 Building goes on, laying at the rate of from 12 to 20 blocks
 per day. Great exertions made to supply materials.               276-284

 Artificers are unavoidably left all night upon the Beacon.
 Smeaton and Patriot slip their moorings. Remarkable breach
 of the Sea upon the Rock. 3 stones are in danger of being
 washed away. Great waste of mortar. 57 stones are laid in one
 day. Cooking commenced on the Beacon 24th June. Situation
 of mortar-makers and smiths upon the Beacon. Rope-ladder
 extended between the Beacon and Building. Work stopped by a
 simple mistake. 66 stones landed, and 38 laid on the 27th
 of June. The work can now be continued after the Rock is
 overflowed by the tide.                                          284-290

 One of the artificers meets with a severe accident, of which,
 however, he recovers. Have 10 hours’ work to-day, and lay
 59 stones. Writer visits the Carr Rock, with a view to the
 erection of a Beacon. Joiners, at their own desire, are now
 left on the Beacon. Considered a favourable omen for the
 inhabitation of the Light-house.                                 290-294

 Tide for the first time does not overflow the building, 8th
 July. Number of joiners reduced. Balance-crane begun to be
 made. Tenth course completed. Building at the rate of 29 to
 52 stones per day. The stone-lighters not loaded at Arbroath
 on Sundays,                                                      294-298

 William Walker, accidentally killed at Arbroath. His widow
 receives an annuity. One of the artificers remains alone on
 the Beacon. Artificers take possession of it, along with
 Peter Fortune. His character. The Praam-boats cannot approach
 the Rock.                                                        298-300

 An embargo is laid on shipping throughout the Kingdom. Mr
 Sheriff DUFF’S exertions to get the Light-house shipping
 relieved. Operations at the Rock while the vessels are
 detained in port. The embargo is taken off the Light-house
 shipping. The propriety of stopping the Bell Rock vessels
 doubted. 78 stones landed, and 40 built, on the 1st August.
 Twenty-four artificers inhabit the Beacon-house. Mr Sheriff
 DUFF visits the Rock. Building proceeds at the rate of from
 22 to 23 stones per day. The Fly of Bridport narrowly escapes
 shipwreck on the Bell Rock. Mr Sheriff HAMILTON visits the
 Rock. Additional supports for the Beacon-house landed.
 Sheer-crane broken. Some of the artificers get alarmed, and
 leave the Beacon. Effects of the late gale.                      300-306

 The Writer takes possession of his cabin on the Beacon 15th
 August. 52 stones landed, and eight built. One of the boats
 of the Floating-light loses her way in thick weather. An
 entire course of the building is laid in one day. Prayers
 read for the first time in the Beacon-house. The Smeaton
 arrives with the last cargo of stones for the solid part of
 the Building. Building operations for the season concluded,
 25th August. Notice of the very proper conduct of the
 artificers. Floating-light breaks adrift. Probable height of
 the waves of the sea in free space. Inducements for stopping
 the building at this early period of the season. The Tender
 continues on the station, and the artificers occupy the
 Beacon-house for a time. Experience bad weather.                 306-311

 The Writer makes a trip to see the distinguishing-light at
 Flamborough-head in Yorkshire. Is overtaken with a gale,
 which he describes. Great want of a Public Harbour on the
 eastern coast of England. Progress of this gale traced from
 Shetland to Yarmouth Roads. Mr B. MILLS of Bridlington,
 probably the first who suggested Distinguishing-lights with
 red colour.                                                      311-313

 The Writer sails for the Northern Lights. State of the works
 when closed for the season. Stool or prop for a crane upon
 the Rock demolished in a gale of wind. Artificers visit the
 Rock. Large Buoy has drifted and Floating-light has had bad
 weather.                                                         313-315

 CHAP. VI.--1810.


 The Tender visits the Rock and Floating-light, 5th January.
 The Artificers cannot land again until the 11th March. Beacon
 rendered very secure. Landing extremely precarious in winter.    317-319

 Retrospective view of the works. Mylnefield and Craigleith
 quarries. Practical inferences about concluding the works.
 Timber Gangway or Bridge. Operations commence for the season.
 Bridge erected at the Rock. One of the artificers gets
 himself hurt.                                                    320-324

 Writer proceeds to the Rock to begin the building operations,
 1st May. Praam-boats ride easily. State of the Building,
 Beacon and Timber-bridge. Balance-crane landed upon the Rock.
 Position of the entrance-door. Artificers take possession of
 the Beacon for the working season.                               324-329

 The Smeaton arrives with the first cargo of stones for
 the season. No communication with the Rock, 12th May.
 Balance-crane ready for use. Theory of Sea and Land breezes.
 Smeaton slips her moorings, and is driven up to Leith.           329-331

 Patriot sent to Mylnefield quarry for the last cargo of
 stones to be carried to Arbroath for the Light-house, 17th
 May. State of the lower part of the Beacon, from the effects
 of a marine insect. 23 blocks of stone landed, and raised
 with the new tackle. One of the stones in danger from the
 breaking of a bolt. The Smeaton makes rapid trips from
 Arbroath to the Rock with materials. Prayers read for the
 first time on the Building. Exertions of Landing-master’s
 crew. 35th course completed. Arrangements for the conduct
 of the works, and safety of the Beacon. Balance-crane shaft
 unfortunately breaks.                                            332-336

 The Writer is welcomed in at the door of the Light-house,
 26th May. Fixtures of the Hinges of the Door and Windows.
 Great expedition of the Shipping with the Materials. Patriot
 makes one trip in 33 hours. 36th course laid. King’s
 Birth-day observed, 4th June.                                    336-339

 Stair-case of the Light-house completed, 5th June. Progress
 of works at Edinburgh. Artificers liable to accident. Boat
 and Life Buoy provided for the Beacon. Trenailing of the
 stones of the building discontinued. Number of persons
 inhabiting the Beacon. Fitting of the window-hinges tedious.
 Comforts of good weather. Balance-crane shifted.                 340-342

 Moveable beam-crane erected on Western Wharf. 2 stones upset
 by the force of the sea. A praam-boat is sent from the Rock
 without delivering her cargo. Floor of the Lightroom-store
 laid, 13th June. Mr John Reid gets leave on shore, after
 having been about three months afloat.                           341-344

 First letter written from the Bell Rock Light-house. Its
 floors, and those of the Edystone described. 31 persons
 lodged in the Beacon. Pay and premiums of the artificers
 at the Rock. Seamen find one of the lost sets of moorings.
 Experiment of collecting Gas from Fishes. Cause of ground
 swells.                                                          344-347

 Landing-master’s dress, and activity of his crew. Want of
 the Western Wharf seriously felt. Operation of shifting the
 Balance-crane. Western Wharf finished, 17th June. Remarkable
 state of the sea at the Rock. Landing-master’s crew have now
 more leisure. Disagreeable state of the weather. Responsible
 situation of the principal workmen.                              347-352

 Carpenter of Floating-light leaves the service. Patriot makes
 a trip to and from Arbroath in 24 hours. Attempts made to
 land stones at high water with the bridge apparatus. Process
 of landing stones. Seamen become discontented. The Writer’s
 correspondence on this occasion. He goes on board of the
 Tender. Dismisses two of the seamen.                             352-357

 Progress of the works at Arbroath. 62d course built at the
 Rock. The artificers are wetted by the sea on the top of the
 walls. Mr John Reid’s report regarding the Floating-light.
 Narrow escape of William Kennedy, one of the masons.             357-361

 Writer describes his cabin. The distressing case of George
 Dall, an impressed seaman. Magistrates of Arbroath visit
 the Rock. Number of artificers reduced to 22. Narrow escape
 of the Smeaton at the Bell Rock. Advantage of alarm-bells.
 Artificers in the Beacon-house greatly alarmed.                  362-365

 Progress of the Light-room works. Mrs Dixon, the late Mr
 Smeaton’s daughter, visits the Bell Rock works at Edinburgh.
 Mr D. Logan joins the works at the Rock. The Patriot is 7
 days in being cleared of a cargo. Progress of raising the
 stones to the top of the Light-house,                            365-369

 Last cargo of stones at Arbroath shipped for the Rock,
 9th July. Library floor laid. Ring-bar-course laid. The
 Dome-course occupies much time in building.                      369-372

 Landing-master’s crew reduced in number. Patriot driven from
 the Rock. Ceremony observed at loading the last stone at
 Leith. Many strangers visit the works in their present state.
 Difficulty of raising and laying the stones of the cornice.
 84th course completed. Eight stones of Balcony course laid.
 This course completed 27th July. Ceremony at landing the last
 stone.                                                           372-377

 Machinery partly dismantled, 31st July. Foot of Balance-crane
 taken down. The Earl of Kellie, and Mr Sheriff Monypenny,
 land at the Rock. Centre-stone of floor laid 3d August.
 Artificers leave the Rock. The Writer meets with his
 Assistants at Arbroath.                                          377-379

 Plans arranged for building the Houses at Arbroath for the
 families of the Light-keepers. The duty on stone charged upon
 these buildings. Three years of the unexpired lease of the
 work-yard given up. Base-line measured on the Sands of Barry.
 Trigonometrical Survey of Great Britain alluded to.              379-383

 Artificers return to the Rock. Smeaton obliged to leave her
 station. Mortar gallery completely broken up by the sea. The
 Tender returns to the Rock. The Smith’s anvil and bellows
 washed off the Beacon.                                           383-386

 Light-room sash-frames landed 23d August. Captain Wilson
 is accidentally hurt by one of them. Last stone of the
 Light-house laid, 2d September.                                  386-388

 The Sir Joseph Banks Tender sails for Leith to be sold.
 Praam-boat drifts from the Rock. Artificers for the erection
 of the Light-room landed upon the Rock on the 14th of
 October. The Writer sails for the Northern Light-houses,
 accompanied by his friends Dr Barclay, Mr Oliphant, and
 Mr Neill. Progress of the Light-room works on his return.
 Unfortunate loss of Charles Henderson. Difficulty of
 procuring red-coloured glass. Ventilating or Finishing
 ball fixed upon the Cupola of the Light-room, 22d October.
 Light-room glazed. Light-house Yacht loses one of her boats
 off the Bell Rock. Great dexterity of the Landing-master and
 his crew.                                                        388-394

 State of the Railways, Beacon, and Light-house. Condition
 of the several apartments. House put under the charge of
 Mr Reid, principal Light-keeper, 30th September. Small
 boat washed off the Beacon. Sprays rise 104 feet upon
 the Light-house. Seas fly from stem to stern of the
 Floating-light. Mr Reid left with Peter Fortune in charge
 of the Light-house. They experience a severe gale. Their
 description of the effects of the Sea.                           394-399

 The Red-coloured Glass arrives at Edinburgh, 6th December.
 Reflecting apparatus shipped for the Rock, and landed on the
 15th. The Light is advertised to the Public on the 17th. List
 of Newspapers in which the advertisement is inserted. The
 Light-keepers are left in possession of the House, together
 with Mr Forrest, general superintendant.                         399-402

 CHAP. VII.--1811.


 1811. The Light is exhibited on the 1st of February, when
 the Floating-Light is extinguished. A Storm occurs on the
 night that the House is lighted. Floating-Light puts into
 Anstruther, on her return voyage to Leith. State of her
 bottom.                                                          404-405

 The Light-keepers get their turns of liberty on shore. Letter
 from Mr Forrest to the writer. Effects of the Sea on the
 building. State of the Railways and Wharfs. Remarkable force
 of the Sea in lifting a large piece of lead. Direction of the
 Seas which have the greatest effect upon the Light-house.
 Comfortable state of the building. Qualifications of the
 Light-keepers. Mr Forrest leaves them in full possession of
 the house.                                                       406-410

 Progress of Ulterior works. Lord Boyle and a party land at
 the Rock. Boats suitable for landing there. Bruce’s “two-half
 Boat.” Light-house stove takes fire. Sprays rise to the
 height of the Light-room. Advantage of double windows.           411-413

 1812. Light-house excites much interest. Sir William Rae
 and Mr Duff, visit the Rock. The Beacon is taken down, and
 removed from the Rock. Mode of securing timber against
 the Oniscus insect. Light-house encounters another gale.
 Remarkable shock of the Sea. Professor Robison’s opinion on
 this subject. State of the Sea from which the Frontispiece is
 delineated. It overruns the Rock at low-water. Mode in which
 the Light is attended.                                           414-416

 1813. Establishment of the Light-keepers at Arbroath
 completed. Signals observed at the Rock. Thunder-rod. Method
 of fixing it.                                                    417-418

 1814. A party of the Commissioners, with Sir Walter Scott,
 visit the Light-house.                                               419

 1815. Permanent Railways begun to be fitted up. Lord
 President Hope visits the Rock.                                      419

 1816. Pharos Tender built. Exterior of Light-house painted.          419

 1818. Fuci disappear from the Rock.                                  420

 1819. Permanent Railways completed. Improved Access to the
 Light-house by a brazen ladder. Sprays rise 105 feet. A piece
 of the highest part of the rock carried away by the violence
 of the Sea.                                                          421

 1820. Improvements on the Light-house. Inner door of brass,
 &c.                                                                  421

 1821. A new Machine for taking up the Stores. Mr John Reid
 retires from the Light-house service on half-pay.                    421

 1822. Light-house Works and Model completed. Design for Wolf
 Rock.                                                                422

 1823. Severe Storm. Carrier-pigeons sent from the Rock.
 Expence of the Work. Cubic contents of the Materials.                423


 No I. Additional Light-houses proposed on the Coast.
 Light-Keepers’ Instructions. Rations of Provisions at the
 Bell Rock. Monthly, and Ship-wreck Returns.                      425-437

 II. Poem on Sir Ralph the Rover, extracted from Mr Southey’s
 Works.                                                               438

 III. Abstract Account of Light-house Duties.                         439

 IV. Reports relative to the Bell Rock Light-house, by Mr Rennie,
 and the Writer.                                                  440-468

 V. Remarks relative to the Ground-Swells of the Sea.             469-470

 VI. Schedules of Materials and Workmanship.                      471-474

 VII. Abstract Account of Expence. Average Price Provisions.      475-483


 Plate I. Inchkeith Light-house.                                      487

 II. Carr Rock Beacon.                                            487-489

 III. Chart of Great Britain, with Sections of the Depths of the
 Sea.                                                                 490

 IV. Chart, shewing the position of the Bell Rock, in relation to
 the opposite Shores.                                                 490

 V. Chart, shewing the Position of the Rock, in relation to the
 Shipping.                                                            491

 VI. Plan of the Rock, shewing the Position of the Light-house.   492-499

 VII. Original Designs for the Light-house.                       499-501

 VIII. Beacon House.                                              501-503

 XI. Progress of the Works.                                       503-505

 X. Implement and Apparatus connected with the Work.              505-508

 XI. Sheer-crane, Praam-boat discharging, &c.                     508-510

 XII. Work-yard, Light-Keepers’ Houses at Arbroath.                   511

 XIII. Plan of the several Courses of the Masonry of the
 Light-house.                                                     511-515

 XIV. Moveable Beam Crane.                                        515-517

 XV. Foundation-Pit of the Light-house.                               518

 XVI. Elevation and Section of the Light-house.                   518-519

 XVII. Balance-Crane.                                             520-522

 XVIII. General View of the Works. (See page 424.)                520-523

 XIX. Door and Window Hinges, and Thunder-rod.                    523-525

 XX. Balcony and Light-Room.                                      526-529

 XXI. Frontispiece explained. (See Title-page.)                       529

 XXII. Vignette on Second Title-page. (See page 62.)                  530

 XXIII. Design for a Light-house, suggested on visiting the Wolf
 Rock,                                                            530-533



[Sidenote: Institution of Board of Northern Light-houses.]

Among the Nations of Europe, the SCOTS have always been allowed
to possess a considerable share of maritime enterprise. The local
situation and circumstances of Scotland necessarily directed the genius
of its people to the pursuit of nautical affairs. Their voyages to
the Hanseatic Towns, and to all the commercial countries of Europe,
were naturally longer than those of their more southern neighbours
of England, who were separated from the Continent only by a narrow
channel, which must have rendered their communication in the rude
periods of maritime discovery comparatively easy. The voyages of the
Scots even to the most contiguous parts of France and the Low Countries
were upwards of 140 leagues, along a coast intersected by innumerable
shoals; and, in the time of war, lay so open to the attacks of English
ships, that, in prosecuting them, the navigators were obliged to
abandon the usual track, and hold a course far from the shelter of the
land, exposed to all the dangers of the seas and the vicissitudes of
the weather.

In those early periods of our national history, when Britain was
divided into two separate and independent states, jealous of each
other, it became necessary for Scotland to form alliances with
foreign powers, when distant voyages, and much intercourse by sea was
indispensable. The frequent struggles with the marauding powers of
the North, obliged her to keep a more considerable navy than would
otherwise have been required for the protection of her commerce. The
connection likewise, with Denmark and Norway, through the marriage
of James III. with Margaret daughter of Christian I., in 1469, was
attended with the final annexation of the Orkney and Shetland Islands
to the Crown of Scotland;--circumstances which naturally extended her
foreign traffic, and completely united the dominion and the navigation
of the whole line of her coast.

It was reserved, however, for the influence and happy effects of the
Union of the Crowns and Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland,
to draw forth the full energies of these countries. During the long
and glorious reign of his late Majesty, the name and character of the
United Kingdom have been highly advanced in arms, while her works of
industry, have not only flourished at home, but been extended to the
remotest parts of the world.

[Sidenote: Improvement of the Highlands.]

About the middle of the last or eighteenth century, the true value of
the Highlands of Scotland, and the best interests of these extensive
districts, may be said for the first time to have been understood.
Since that period, the object of the Government has been more
especially directed to the industry of the inhabitants, in giving every
encouragement and facility to the establishment of fisheries, towns
and harbours, along the shores of the north and west of Scotland; and
in opening interior communications, by the introduction of a system
of roads, the formation of an extensive inland navigation, and the
execution of other national works.

[Sidenote: Extension of Trade.]

Soon after the internal disturbances which marked the year 1745,
the trade on the coast of Scotland with sloops or vessels of small
tonnage, became considerable, in consequence of the bounties and
encouragement given to the extension of the British fisheries. About
this time also, the important manufacture of kelp or marine alkali,
from certain species of _fuci_ abundant on the northern and western
shores of Scotland, was introduced. Besides carrying the kelp to
market, a considerable number of small vessels was employed in
conveying salt and other articles required for the fisheries,--in the
Irish coasting trade,--in carrying slates from Argyleshire,--and in
transporting the rich iron-ore of Cumberland to the foundries on the
eastern shores of the kingdom. A trade was likewise carried on from
the Frith of Clyde, Liverpool, and the west of England in general, and
north of Ireland, with Norway, the Baltic, and the other States in the
north of Europe, in timber, iron, tar and other commodities; and in
exchange for these were received coal, salt, and the various exports of
Britain. These all became sources of commerce, which created a demand
for shipping, and promoted numerous voyages along the northern and
western coasts of Scotland, which now became more known and frequented.
But such was the length and peril of a voyage round the coast of
Scotland, by the Orkneys and Western Islands, without the aid of
light-houses, or even of correct charts, that the traffic along these
shores was still comparatively small.

[Sidenote: Inland Navigation.]

It was to remove these difficulties in some measure, that the formation
of a navigable canal between the Friths of Forth and Clyde, had long
been in agitation; and in the year 1767, the measure was brought
forward in the House of Commons. This canal, upon a voyage from the
Forth to the Clyde, is calculated to save no less than about 628 miles;
the distance, by the inland navigation being reduced to about 35 miles.
This work having been carried into execution, was opened from sea to
sea in 1790, forming an important step in the progressive intercourse
by water-carriage, a system which has since been so remarkably
extended to all parts of the united kingdom. But the usefulness of
the Forth and Clyde Canal was greatly marred by an unfortunate error
in its construction, its depth having been limited to 9 feet, and its
consequent incapacity for carrying _sea-borne_ ships of large burden;
so that the inconveniences of a circuitous voyage round Scotland still
remains for all the larger classes of shipping. In the formation of the
Caledonian Canal, the error of the Forth and Clyde navigation has been
avoided; this noble work being capable of receiving ships which draw 21
feet of water.

[Sidenote: Voyage of James V. in 1540.]

Notwithstanding these great improvements, it was still found necessary,
from the increasing state of trade, to give further facilities to the
navigation of the northern shores, by the Orkney and Western Islands.
The first step taken towards this object, was to procure accurate
surveys of the coast; for it is a curious fact, deserving of notice,
that the little journal and chart of the enterprising voyage of James
V., with many of the Scottish Nobles, from the Frith of Forth to the
Solway Frith, by the Orkneys, was long consulted as the only guide for
these seas. This voyage, so honourable to the naval annals of Scotland,
was undertaken by James with twelve ships in the year 1540, under the
direction of Alexander Lindsay, the most skilful pilot of his time.

[Sidenote: Original Charts.]

At the request of the Philosophical Society (now the Royal Society)
of Edinburgh, the Rev. Alex. Bryce of Kirknewton, about the year
1740, made a geometrical survey of the North-west coast of Scotland,
including the shores of Caithness and Sutherland. This paved the way
for the more extensive labours of Mr Murdoch Mackenzie, who, after
finishing his excellent charts of the Orkney Islands in the year 1750,
was employed by Government in a survey of the whole of the Western
Highlands and Islands, from Cape Wrath in Sutherlandshire to the Mull
of Kintyre. But long after the publication of these valuable charts,
the navigation of the sounds and sheltered seas of this district was
seldom ventured upon by the larger class of shipping employed in
foreign trade. The danger of falling in prematurely with the land
during the night, and the rapidity of the tides on these shores,
induced the mariner to keep along the extreme points and headlands
of the coast, holding his course even to the northward of Orkney and
Shetland, and to the westward of the Lewis Isles by St Kilda, exposed
to the heavy seas of the Atlantic Ocean. In this way, much hazard to
shipping, and loss of time, were incurred; and when overtaken with
gales of wind, such vessels were unable to avail themselves of the
numerous bays and anchorages of the Highlands;--considerations of much
importance to heavy laden ships, but especially to the smaller classes
of coasting and fishing vessels. It therefore appeared, that nothing
but the erection of Lighthouses, by which the mariner might identify
the land under night, would render this navigation at all a safe one.

[Sidenote: Proposition of a Light-house Board.]

Representations had often been made by shipmasters to their owners, of
the difficulties and dangers encountered in sailing along the coast of
Scotland. The establishment of a Light-house Board, and the erection of
Light-houses on our Northern Shores, became the topic of conversation
among mercantile men; and the subject was at length brought forward
at the meeting of the Convention of the Royal Boroughs of Scotland,
in the year 1784, by the late Mr DEMPSTER of Dunnichen, then Provost
of Forfar, and Member of Parliament, as worthy of the notice of the

[Sidenote: Passing of the Original Act, 1786.]

A bill was accordingly framed by the late Mr JOHN GRAY, writer to the
Signet, agent for the Royal Boroughs, which was brought into Parliament
by Mr Dempster, in the session of 1786. By this act, the 26th Geo. III.
chap. 101., a Board was appointed, for the erection of Light-houses
on the coast of Scotland; the preamble stating that “it would conduce
greatly to the security of navigation and the fisheries, if four
lighthouses were erected in the northern parts of Great Britain,” viz.
one on Kinnaird Head, in Aberdeenshire; one on the Orkney Islands; one
on the Harris Isles, and one at the Mull of Kintyre, in Argyleshire;
for which a duty of one penny _per_ register ton, for British, and
twopence _per_ ton upon foreign ships, should be paid by every ship or
decked vessel which should pass one or all of these lights.

[Sidenote: Commissioners _ex Officio_.]

The Commissioners appointed for putting this act in execution, are,
“His Majesty’s Advocate and Solicitor-General for Scotland; the Lord
Provost and First Bailie of Edinburgh; the Lord Provost and First
Bailie of Glasgow; the Provosts of Aberdeen, Inverness and Campbeltown;
the Sheriffs of the Counties of Edinburgh, Lanark, Renfrew, Bute,
Argyle, Inverness, Ross, Orkney, Caithness, and Aberdeen;” and to
these have since been added, the Sheriffs of the Counties of Ayr,
Fife, Forfar, and Wigton, agreeably to a clause which authorises the
Commissioners to add to their number.

[Sidenote: First Meeting of the Board.]

The first meeting of the Commissioners was held at Edinburgh on the 1st
day of August 1786; and consisted of the following members:

 His Majesty’s Solicitor-General, Robert Dundas of Arniston.
 The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Hunter-Blair, Bart.
 The First Bailie of Edinburgh, James Dickson, Esq.
 The Sheriff of the County of Bute, Bannatyne Macleod, Esq.
 The Sheriff of the County of Aberdeen, Alexander Elphinston, Esq.
 The Sheriff of the County of Lanark, Sir William Honyman, Bart.

[Sidenote: Mode of raising Funds.]

The meeting having elected Sir James Hunter-Blair to be their Preses,
and appointed Mr Gray to be their Secretary, deliberated upon the
measures to be taken for giving effect to the statute. The first
object of the Board was to borrow the sum of L. 1200, which they were
authorised to raise. As all the Commissioners were acting _ex officio_,
it was suggested, that the most convenient method of arranging the
security for the funds to be borrowed, would be for the Magistrates
of the five boroughs mentioned in the act to become security, upon
assignment of the duties leviable for the lights,--a mode which was
accordingly adopted.

[Sidenote: Progress of Northern Light-houses.]

[Sidenote: Information about Light-houses.]

The preses informed the meeting, that he had corresponded with
persons the most likely to afford information relative to the best
construction of Light-houses, and had received answers from Liverpool
to a variety of queries regarding Light-houses, where the use of
coal-fires had been laid aside, and where oil lights, with reflectors,
had been introduced: That he had also got various plans and estimates
for Light-houses lighted with oil: That the Chamber of Commerce of
Edinburgh had furnished a plan of the Light-house on the Island of
May, in the Frith of Forth, and also a description of the light on the
Island of Cumbraes, in the Frith of Clyde, both of which were then
open coal-fires: In particular, that he had received from the late Mr
THOMAS SMITH of Edinburgh, plans and observations on the construction
of Light-houses with Lamps and Reflectors; which having been ultimately
approved of, Mr Smith was nominated Engineer to the Board. After
appointing a Committee for preparing matters for a general meeting,
they adjourned till the 23d of January 1787.

[Sidenote: Transactions of 1787.]

In pursuance of the act of Parliament, the Commissioners gave
directions that a correspondence should be opened with the several
proprietors of the land where the four original Light-houses were
specified to be erected. An answer was immediately received from Mr
Traill of Westness in Orkney, requesting the Board’s free acceptance
of the ground necessary for erecting the Light-house proposed for the
Northern Isles of Orkney, on any part of his property. Application
was made to the Duke of Argyle, as to the ground for the erection of
a Light-house on the Mull of Kintyre; to Lord Saltoun, relative to
the station of Kinnaird-Head, in Aberdeenshire; and to Mr Macleod of
Harris, as to the site of a Light-house on Island Glass. Measures were
also taken for obtaining fit persons to contract for erecting the
necessary buildings, and for conducting the operations at the different

_Kinnaird Head._

[Sidenote: Kinnaird-Head Light-house.]

The result of the correspondence with Lord Saltoun, was the purchase
of the old building of Kinnaird Castle from his Lordship, on which a
lantern or light-room was erected. After encountering considerable
difficulties in the outset of this establishment, the house was got
ready for the exhibition of the light by the month of December 1787,
and the following notice to mariners was officially given by the
Secretary in the London Gazette, and in the Edinburgh, Glasgow, and
Aberdeen newspapers.

“By order of the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for
erecting four Light-houses in the northern parts of Great Britain, a
Light-house is now erected on Kinnaird Castle, at Kinnaird-Head, near
Fraserburgh, in the county of Aberdeen, Lat. 57° 42´, and Long. 2° 19´
West of London, Cairnbulg from the Light-house bearing, by compass,
S.E., distant 2 miles; and Trauphead W.NW., distant 9 miles. The
lantern is 120 feet above the level of the sea at high-water, and will
be seen from SE. to W.NW. and intermediate points of the compass on the
north of these points. The lantern will be lighted on the night of the
first day of December 1787, and every night thereafter, from the going
away of day-light in the evening till the return of day-light in the

_Mull of Kintyre._

[Sidenote: Mull of Kintyre Light-house.]

At the Mull of Kintyre, one of the most inaccessible and difficult of
the Northern Light-house stations, the buildings were nearly prepared
for the light-room by the month of November; but the season being too
far advanced, and it appearing from Mr Smith’s report, that there
would be some risk in conveying the apparatus to the light-house at
this inclement season, the Commissioners resolved to delay the further
progress of the work at Kintyre till the following spring.

[Sidenote: ~1788.~]

The operations at the Mull of Kintyre were recommenced in the month of
April, but, owing chiefly to the inaccessible great difficulty that
was experienced in transporting the building materials connected with
the lantern or light-room, over the mountainous district of Kintyre,
it was the month of October before the light could be announced for
exhibition, when public advertisement was made of the lighting of the
house to the following effect.

“The Mull of Kintyre Light-house is situated immediately above the
rocks known to mariners by the name of The Merchants, in North Lat. 55°
17´, and Long. 5° 42´ west of London; the eastern entrance of the Sound
of Isla, bearing from the Light-house by compass, N. by E., distant
33 miles; the Mull of Kinho in the Island of Isla N. NW., distant 25
miles; and the northern extremity of Rathlin Island, on the coast of
Ireland, NW. ½ W. distant 13 miles; the Maiden Rocks S. by W. ½ W.,
distant 21 miles; and Copland Light-house S. by W. ½ W., distant 40
miles. The light-room is elevated 240 feet above the medium level of
the sea, and will be seen from N. NE. to S. by W., and all intermediate
points of the compass north of these points. The light will be
exhibited on the 1st day of December 1788, and every night thereafter,
from the going away of day-light in the evening till the return of
day-light in the morning.”

[Sidenote: Light-house duty too small.]

In the progress of the works of the Northern Light-houses, it soon
became evident, from the diminished state of the funds, that the
light-house duty of 1d. _per_ ton upon British vessels, and 2d. upon
foreign bottoms, was too small. By the original act, also, this duty
was only to be levied after the whole of the lights at the four
stations had been exhibited to mariners; but the Board having found
that it would be expedient to commence the collection of the duties so
soon as two were lighted, resolved on applying to Parliament for a new

[Sidenote: Act of 1788.]

A bill was accordingly brought into the House of Commons by Sir Ilay
Campbell, M. P., when Lord Advocate for Scotland, and _ex officio_ one
of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, which passed in
the session of 1788, empowering the Commissioners to levy a duty of
1½d., or one halfpenny more _per_ ton upon British ships, and 3d.,
or one penny _per_ ton additional upon foreigners; and, in the mean
time, to commence collecting half duties till the whole of the four
light-houses mentioned in the former act were lighted, when the full
duties were to become exigible. Already about L. 4000 had been expended
on the light-houses of Kinnaird-Head and Kintyre. By this new act,
however, the Commissioners being empowered to borrow a further sum
of L. 3000, were not only enabled to forward the operations already
commenced, but, with this additional duty, it was expected that they
would soon be in a condition to answer the calls of the shipping
interest for additional erections on the coast.

_Island Glass._

[Sidenote: ~1789.~]

Considerable progress had been made in the course of the former season
with the erection of the Light-house at Island Glass in Harris,
which was finished and lighted on the 10th day of October 1789, the
following being its specification:--The Point of Island Glass, one of
the Harris Isles, is situated in North Lat. 57° 50´, and Long. 6° 33´
west of London. Ru-Ushiness bears from the light-house, per compass,
E. NE. ½ E., distant 8 miles; northern extremity of Shiant Isles
E., ½ S., southern extremity of ditto E. by S. ½ S., distant 11
miles; Skerne Rock SE., ½ E., distant 3 miles; Skergraidish Rock S.
SE. ¼ E., distant 9 miles; Point of Trotternish in Sky S. SE. ¼
E., distant 16 miles; Point of Vaternish S. SW. ¼ W., distant 15
miles; Dunvegan-Head SW. ½ S., distant 20 miles; Point of Roudil, at
the entrance of the Sound of Harris, W. by S., distant 14 miles. The
light-room is elevated 70 feet above the medium level of the sea, and
will be seen from E. NE. ½ E., from W. by S., and intermediate points
of the compass south of these points.

[Sidenote: North Ronaldsay Light-house.]

While the works of Island Glass were proceeding, a light-house was
also erected, and lighted 10th October 1789, on the island of North
Ronaldsay, in Orkney; but, as the light at this station was afterwards
removed to the neighbouring island of Sanday, it will fall more
properly to be noticed in the form of a Tower or Beacon, into which the
building was converted, after a Light-house had been established at the
Start Point of Sanday.


[Sidenote: Application for Pladda Light-house.]

The erection of the four light-houses of Kinnaird Head, North
Ronaldsay, Island Glass, and the Mull of Kintyre, completed the
operations of the Northern Light-house Board, referred to in the
original act of 1786; and at the time of passing that act, it was
not foreseen that a greater number would be required on the coast of
Scotland for a series of years. But the benefit of the lights which had
already been erected, in affording much greater safety and facility
to the mariner in those dangerous seas, became so apparent, that they
were no sooner exhibited than applications from different quarters
for new erections followed. Among these, a memorial was presented to
the Commissioners by the Merchants’ House of Greenock, accompanied
by a letter from the Chamber of Commerce of Glasgow, setting forth
the advantages which the shipping of the Clyde would derive from the
erection of a light-house upon the small island of Pladda, situated
at the southern extremity of the island of Arran, and entrance of
the Frith of Clyde. This memorial concluded by requesting, that the
Commissioners would “take such measures as should to them seem most
proper, for procuring an act of Parliament, in order to carry the
erection of a light-house on the island of Pladda into execution as
soon as possible.”

[Sidenote: Act of 1789.]

[Sidenote: Collectors appointed.]

An act was accordingly obtained, in the session of 1789, not only for
the erection of Pladda Light-house, but for extending the powers of the
Commissioners to the erection of such other light-houses on the coast
of Scotland as to them should seem necessary, whenever the free produce
of the duties of 1½d. and 3d. _per_ ton respectively on British
and foreign ships should enable the Board to do so. In consequence of
the act of 1788, authorising the collection of half duties so soon as
two of the four light-houses mentioned in the original act should be
lighted, collectors at the different customhouses of all the ports of
Great Britain were appointed to receive the Northern Light-house duty,
and for their trouble they were to be paid at the rate of 10 _per
cent._ upon the sums they should respectively receive: But the business
being scarcely organized in 1789, and only half duties being exigible,
the whole money collected in that year amounted but to L. 290:14:6,
and even this small sum formed part of two years’ collection. From the
smallness of the duties, and the extent of the operations which the
Commissioners had now on hand, they were much pressed for the necessary
funds, and but for the liberality of their bankers Sir William Forbes
and Company, the operations of the Board must have been greatly
hampered. Indeed, Sir James Hunter Blair, one of the partners of that
house, when Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and _ex officio_ a member of the
Board, had been highly instrumental in forwarding the establishment of
the Northern Light-houses; and it was, perhaps, from such adventitious
circumstances, together with the economy of the measures originally
pursued, that the progress of the Light-house works proceeded, without
experiencing any interruption from want of funds.

[Sidenote: ~1790.~]

The light-house of Pladda was finished in the course of the year
1790, and lighted on the 1st day of October. As before noticed, it is
situated in the Frith of Clyde, on the small island of Pladda, near
the south-west point of the island of Arran, in North Lat. 55° 30´ and
Long. 5° 4´ west of London; the entrance of Campbeltown Loch bearing,
by compass, W.NW. ¼ N., distant 18 miles; Island of Sana W., distant
20 miles; Craig of Ailsa SW. by S., distant 15 miles; entrance to Loch
Ryan S.SW., distant 25 miles; and the Heads of Ayr E.SE., distant
16 miles. The light-room is elevated above the medium level of the
sea 70 feet; and the light is seen from NE. by E. to NW. by W. and
intermediate points of the compass south of these points.

[Sidenote: ~1791.~]

[Sidenote: Distinguishing light at Pladda.]

In order to distinguish Pladda Light-house from the light upon the
Promontory of Kintyre on the one hand, and that upon the island of
Cumbrae, further up the Frith of Clyde, and also from the Copeland
light on the Irish coast, it was found necessary, in the course of
the year 1791, to erect a small Light-room, immediately under the
principal light, that, by shewing two distinct lights at this station,
the one 20 feet higher than the other, it might be distinguishable
from those above alluded to. This small light-room being rather of a
temporary construction, the Board have it in view to erect one upon a
more efficient plan, when certain repairs which are in contemplation at
Pladda shall be made.

[Sidenote: Annual supply and inspection of the Lights.]

The Northern Light-houses being situated in parts of the country remote
and inaccessible, it became necessary to arrange some systematic and
proper plan for managing the ordinary business of the Board, which,
at this time, had only one stated meeting, held by act of Parliament
in the month of July annually. A special meeting was accordingly
convened by the Secretary, in the month of March 1791; at which there
were present, the Lord Advocate of Scotland; the Lord Provost of
Edinburgh; the Sheriff of Aberdeen; the Sheriff of Renfrew; and the
Sheriff of Orkney, Mr Charles Hope, now Lord President of the Court
of Session. This meeting having taken into consideration the proper
mode of supplying the light-houses, and of attending to the conduct of
the light-keepers, it was resolved, That the engineer should charter
a vessel annually, to carry a full complement of stores and other
necessaries for the use of the lights, and such artificers, implements
and materials as might, from time to time, be found necessary for
making repairs at the light-houses; and also, that the engineer
should annually visit each light-house, and report upon the state and
condition of the buildings, and upon the conduct of the respective
light-keepers in keeping the lights, and in the management of the
stores and appurtenances committed to their charge; with power to
dismiss them for neglect of duty.

[Sidenote: Light-keepers’ Salary.]

The light-keepers already engaged in the service, had been verbally
informed by the engineer, that they would be paid L. 30 of yearly
salary; and this meeting having before it a range of salaries paid
to light-keepers both in England and Scotland, varying from L. 20 to
upwards of L. 70, it was resolved, That in ordinary situations, the
salary of the light-keepers in the service of the Northern Light-houses
should be L. 30 _per annum_, with a piece of garden-ground and pasture
for a cow, and a sufficient quantity of fuel for the use of their

[Sidenote: First voyage of the Engineer.]

[Sidenote: Light-house keeper dismissed the service.]

In consequence of this arrangement, a vessel of about 100 tons burden
was chartered and fitted out with stores and other necessaries for
the use of the Northern Light-houses; and in the course of the
summer of 1791, Mr Smith made his first annual visit by sea to the
light-houses--the journeys of the engineer having hitherto been
performed chiefly by land. On this voyage, every thing was reported to
be in good order at the several stations, excepting at the Light-house
of North Ronaldsay, which he found to be very improperly kept: it
appeared also that the light-keeper at this station had been embezzling
the stores committed to his charge. This person was formerly a
ship-master, who, finding it difficult to get employment in the line of
his profession, had been very improperly recommended to the attention
of the Light-house Board. Under circumstances of such misconduct, the
engineer immediately dismissed him from the service, and his conduct
was further taken cognizance of by the Sheriff of the county.

[Sidenote: Economical plan of the early Light-houses.]

The business of the Light-houses was now so arranged, that matters went
on in a very prosperous and successful manner. So well, indeed, had
the plans and buildings of their engineer been considered, and made
to meet the slender funds of the Board, that, with an expenditure of
little more than L. 10,000, five lights had been exhibited upon the
coast. Though these buildings were unavoidably very much circumscribed
in their accommodations, and even temporary in their construction, yet
the speedy exhibition of the lights was of great benefit to navigation,
while the improving state of the light-house duties enabled the
Commissioners to extend their influence along a greater range of coast;
and the different buildings have since been enlarged and completed in
a much more substantial manner, by applying the surplus funds to these

[Sidenote: ~1793.~]

[Sidenote: Application for additional light-houses.]

In the year 1793, the prosperous state of funds induced and enabled the
Commissioners to attend to the applications of mariners for additional
light-houses on the coast. In particular a letter, to be afterwards
more fully noticed, was addressed to the Light-house Board by Admiral
Sir Alexander Cochrane, then commanding his Majesty’s ship Hind upon
the Leith station, setting forth the great benefit that would accrue
to shipping, from the erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock.
Representations were likewise made at this time by the merchants of
Liverpool, regarding the propriety of erecting a light-house upon the
Skerries, situated in the middle of the Pentland Frith, which separates
the Orkney Islands from the Mainland of Caithness. The object of a
light here, was to open this Frith as a passage to shipping in general,
and to enable the mariner to avoid a circuitous and dangerous voyage to
the northward of the Orkney Islands.

[Sidenote: State of the Light-house funds.]

At this period, however, the Commissioners could not venture to
undertake a work of such magnitude and difficulty, as the erection of
a light-house upon the Bell Rock. The amount of the light-house duties
at first was extremely limited; and though in a progressive state,
yet, for 1789, as before stated, they only amounted to L. 249:14:6.
For 1790, the sum was L. 1477:5:1; for 1791, it was L. 2736:9:2; for
1792, it rose to L. 3160:18:1. But in the year 1793, of which we are
now treating, the duties rather declined, and they only netted L.
2868, 3s. 5d. The Commissioners were nevertheless enabled to pay off
L. 4200, which, by the acts of 1786 and 1788, they had been empowered
to borrow, and likewise to discharge the advances made by Sir William
Forbes and Company; still leaving a balance of about L. 2000 of surplus
duties in the hands of their treasurer. The funds being, therefore,
still very limited, and only in a condition to enable the Board to
erect a light-house of the ordinary construction, the erection of the
light-house on the Pentland Skerries was resolved on; and the further
consideration of the Bell Rock light-house reserved, until the funds
should be in a more advanced state.

_Pentland Skerries._

[Sidenote: Regarding the site of the Pentland Frith Light-house.]

Some difference of opinion arising among the gentlemen and merchants
of Orkney, whether the light-house proposed for the Pentland Skerries
should not rather be erected upon the island of Copinsha, situate
about fifteen miles northward of the Portland Frith, the matter was
referred to the opinion of the Association of Ship-owners of Liverpool,
and to the Chambers of Commerce of Glasgow and Greenock, when these
public bodies unanimously and strongly recommended the erection of
the light-house on the Pentland Skerries, as the site best calculated
for a direction to the Pentland Frith; which was accordingly fixed
upon by the Board. To mark this Light-house from the other lights upon
the coast, it was necessary to make it a Distinguishing-light, which
was effected by the erection of a higher and lower light-house tower,
respectively 80 and 100 feet above the medium level of the sea, built
at the distance of 60 feet asunder, and each having a light-room with
reflectors, so as to show two distinct stationary lights, for as yet
the Revolving-light had not been introduced upon this coast.

[Sidenote: ~1794.~]

[Sidenote: The author’s first voyage to the north.]

The works at the Pentland Skerries were begun early in the spring of
1794. The masonry was executed by builders of Orkney; and the materials
having been prepared, were partly landed on these small islands in the
course of the preceding summer. The Skerries consist of two uninhabited
islands, with some contiguous sunken rocks. They lie exposed to the
uninterrupted force of the waves of the North Sea, and to the rapid
tides and currents of the Pentland Frith, and present many convincing
proofs of the wasting state of the land, by the action of the sea. The
works here had been so laid out, that the towers should be in readiness
for the erection of the light-rooms by the month of August; and it
was expected that the lights would be ready for exhibition in the
month of October. The author, to whose superintendance the completing
of these light-houses was to be entrusted, as his first work for the
Board, sailed from Leith on this service on the 2d July 1794; and
after touching at Kinnaird Head Light-house, he landed at the Pentland
Skerries on the 11th of that month, and found the masonry of the two
light-house towers in such a state of forwardness, as to be then nearly
ready for the light-rooms. In the month of September, these works were
completed, and the lights were exhibited on the 1st day of October

These lights are from oil, with reflectors, and may be described as
erected on the largest of the Pentland Skerries, in Lat. 58° 43´ and
Long. 3° 3´ west of London; the northmost or highest light-room being
elevated 100 feet, and the lower light-room 80 feet above the medium
level of the sea. The two light-rooms, relatively to each other, bear
S. SW. and N. NE., distant 60 feet. The bearings, as taken from the
highest light-room, by compass, are the western extremity of the Little
Pentland Skerry S. by W., distant 1¼ mile; extremity of the foul
ground off that Skerry SE., distant 1½ mile; Duncan’s Bay Head in
Caithness; W. SW. distant 4½ miles; Noss Head SW. by W., distant 14
miles; northmost point of the Island of Stroma NW. by W., distant 6½
miles; south-western extremity of the Loather Rock on the Orkney shore
N. by W., distant 3½ miles; Island of Copinsha NE. by E. ¼ E.,
distant 17 miles.

[Sidenote: Loss of the sloop Elizabeth.]

The author, having remained to complete the works at the Pentland
Skerries, and to see the house lighted, sailed from Orkney on the 9th
of October, in the sloop Elizabeth of Stromness. On the following day,
the vessel got within three miles of Kinnaird Head Light-house, in
Aberdeenshire; but the wind having suddenly shifted to the south-east,
Mr Sinclair, the master, with much attention and kindness, landed
the author, who continued his journey to Edinburgh by land. A very
different fate, however, awaited his shipmates; for the Elizabeth
having put back to Cromarty Roads, was afterwards driven to Orkney, and
ultimately lost, when all on board perished.

[Sidenote: Mr Balfour and Mr Riddoch presented with pieces of Plate.]

In the affairs connected with the erection of light-houses in Orkney,
Mr Balfour of Elwick, and Mr Riddoch, collector of the customs at
Kirkwall, having respectively taken much friendly interest and trouble
in the advancement of the Light-house works in the Orkney islands, the
Commissioners of the Light-houses presented a small piece of plate to
each of these gentlemen, with a suitable inscription, in testimony of
the services they had thus rendered to the public.

[Sidenote: Act for Incorporating the Commissioners.]

Some inconveniency having been experienced in conducting the business
of the Light-house Board, in consequence of its not being an
incorporated body, and not having a common seal, particularly in the
holding of stock and other property, in laying out and investing the
surplus funds arising from the light-house duties, application was
made to Parliament, and an act passed in 1798, 38th Geo. III. c. 57.
erecting the Commissioners into a Board or Body-politic, by the name of
“The Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses;” and under that title
to have perpetual succession, and hold a common seal.

[Sidenote: Additional Works at the first erected Light-houses.]

After the completion of these two light-houses on the Pentland
Skerries in 1794, a period of ten years elapsed before the erection of
any additional light-house was undertaken on the coast of Scotland.
This delay was rendered necessary, chiefly on account of the
necessity of extending the accommodation of the light-keepers at the
different stations,--in making landing places and roads,--enclosing
grounds,--and, in short, putting the whole establishment of the
light-houses into a more complete and finished state.

[Sidenote: Light-House proposed as a direction for Cromarty Frith.]

In the mean time, several propositions for new light-houses were
brought under the notice of the Commissioners. In the year 1797, for
example, the late Mr Dempster of Dunnichen proposed the erection of
a light-house as a direction for the entrance of Cromarty Frith, one
of the principal inlets for shipping on the eastern coast of Great
Britain. Mr Dempster also suggested, in connection with this, that a
Beacon should be erected, and a floating buoy moored, to point out the
dangerous channel of Dornoch Frith, which is too often fatally mistaken
for the entrance to Cromarty Frith. The proposition of a beacon and
buoy for Dornoch, was considered by the Commissioners as not strictly
in the high seas, and therefore not properly belonging to the concerns
of the Board, and, together with the light-house, were delayed for the
present, that attention might be paid to more urgent demands on other
parts of the coast.

[Sidenote: Proposition for altering the site of Kinnaird Head

Notwithstanding the benefit derived from the erection of Kinnaird
Head light-house, shipwrecks were still occurring on a dangerous
reef of rocks called Rattray Brigs, situate about 12 miles southward
of Kinnaird Head, and 6 miles north of Peterhead. In the year 1798,
petitions were presented to the Commissioners from certain merchants
and traders, setting forth, that the light-house upon Kinnaird Head
would be much more beneficial to shipping, were it removed to Rattray
Head. This matter was remitted to the author to report upon, who
accordingly made a survey of this part of the coast. After maturely
considering the subject, it was deemed advisable to decline the removal
of the light-house from Kinnaird Head, which was found to be extremely
useful for directing ships into the Moray and Cromarty Friths, and
also to vessels making the land from the northward. Although it might
not, perhaps, be so useful to coasters bound from the south, yet the
Commissioners found, that it would be better, under all circumstances,
to preserve Kinnaird Head as a light-house station, and, at some future
period, to erect an additional light upon this important part of the
coast, at or near Peterhead, in a position calculated to be useful
as a guide for the sunken reef of Rattray Brigs, and also for the
south-eastern shores of Aberdeenshire.

_Start Point Beacon._

[Sidenote: ~1801.~]

[Sidenote: Numerous Wrecks on the Island of Sanday.]

Among the several applications brought before the Board for additional
light-houses, something still appeared to be necessary for averting
the misfortunes which were annually happening on the low shores of the
Northern Isles of Orkney. It had now been found, by the experience of
about twelve years, that the light-house of North Ronaldsay was not
calculated to prevent the numerous wrecks on the islands of Sanday and
Stronsay. In the year 1796, when the author was on his annual visit to
the Northern Light-houses, he was struck at seeing the wreck of three
homeward-bound ships upon the island of Sanday, though situate only
about eight miles southward of the light-house of North Ronaldsay.
Again, in 1797, he found one wrecked ship on Sanday; but in 1798 he saw
the remains of no fewer than five vessels upon that fatal island; and,
in the month of December 1799, two of the numerous vessels which were
driven from Yarmouth Roads in a dreadful gale of wind at south-east,
were also wrecked there. The author having laid this continued and
alarming state of things before the Light-house Board, in his annual
report of 1801, it was resolved, that a beacon or tower of masonry
should be erected upon the Start Point or eastern extremity of the
low shores of the island of Sanday; the building to be constructed in
such a manner that it might, if found necessary, be converted into a

[Sidenote: ~1802.~]

[Sidenote: Proofs of a severe winter in Orkney.]

In the year 1802, the author sailed on his annual voyage to the
Northern Light-houses so early as the 14th of April, in the Pharos of
Leith, carrying with him a foreman and sixteen artificers, to commence
the works of the Start Point Tower. After rather a boisterous passage,
the vessel reached Orkney in six days, and, at this advanced period
of the season, these Islands were found covered to the depth of six
inches with snow. This, at any time, is rather uncommon in Orkney; but
such had been the severity of the season in the northern regions, that
a flock of wild swans which, in severe winters, visit this country,
were still seen in considerable numbers upon the fresh-water lakes
of Sanday. These large birds are supposed to migrate from Iceland,
but are rarely seen here later than the month of March, so that their
appearance in the latter end of the month of April, was considered by
the Orcadians as a mark of a very severe and long-continued winter in
the higher latitudes.

[Sidenote: Quarries at Sanday and Eda.]

[Sidenote: Encroachments of the Sea upon the Land.]

[Sidenote: Of Ruble Building.]

[Sidenote: Houses built with Double walls.]

It having been ascertained that there was no workable sandstone on
the island of Sanday, where the Beacon was to be erected, permission
was granted by Mr Laing, the proprietor of the contiguous island of
Eda, to open a quarry at Calf Sound, where sandstone of a pretty
good quality was obtained. With a view to render this building
substantially water-tight, it had been originally intended to make it
wholly of hewn stone, built in regular courses, technically called
_ashlar_ or _aisler-work_, a term derived from the aisle of a church,
where this sort of masonry predominates; but the quarry of Eda being
about fourteen miles distant from the work, the stones had to be
brought by sea through rapid tides; and there being but indifferent
creeks or havens both at the quarry and at the Start Point, it was
found necessary to make only the principal stones of hewn-work,
while the body of the work was executed in ruble-building, for which
excellent materials were got at the Start Point, the property of the
Right Honourable Lord Dundas, consisting of _sandstone-slate_, of a
greyish-smoke colour, intermixed with shining particles of mica. The
rock here is disposed in strata, from 1 to 8 inches in thickness, and
could easily be raised in pieces containing from 15 to 20 square feet.
Indeed, the encroachments of the sea had heaped up immense quantities
of these schistose stones at high-water mark, all round the Start
Point, the shores of which appeared like the ruins of the wall of
some large city. These stones, however, were more applicable for the
purposes of dike-building, or interior walls, than for external work;
for, after having been exposed on the beach for ages to the alternate
changes of moisture and dryness, heat and cold, they were found to
have many small fissures, or were split horizontally; and although the
pieces still seemed to adhere closely, yet they were sufficiently open
to admit moisture into the heart of the walls, which, in these stormy
and exposed situations, is forced through the building: hence it is,
that houses built with _drift_-stones of this description, are said by
the cottagers of these islands to keep out moisture much better when
built with _puddle_ or clay, than with the best lime-mortar, which,
under certain circumstances, is known to attract moisture, while the
clay resists it. But after all the care that can be taken in building
with these slaty stones, even when taken fresh from the quarry, they
still have a tendency to split into lamellæ, after they are built in
the walls. Experienced builders, therefore, generally lay the outward
stones of such walls with a slight inclination downwards, or _dip_,
as the workmen term it, the more readily to prevent the admission of
wetness. I have been thus particular, because it is hardly possible
to prevent walls built of these materials from drawing moisture,
until they have been _rough cast_,--an operation which is so very
troublesome, from requiring to be occasionally renewed, that I have
found it necessary, in these exposed situations, to build the outward
walls double, as the only effectual method of obtaining a comfortable
house free of dampness.

[Sidenote: Laying the foundation stone of Beacon.]

The weather continued to be so extremely boisterous here, that it was
the middle of the month of May before a sufficient stock of materials
was laid down for commencing the building at the Start Point. A wish
having been expressed by the workmen, to have the foundation-stone
of the Beacon laid with masonic ceremony; and considering the dreary
prospect which the artificers had before them, the author was the
more willing to embrace so fair an opportunity of affording them the
enjoyment of a little convivial happiness. The influx of so many
strangers to the island of Sanday for this work, and the novelty of
the intended ceremony, made the news soon find its way to every house.
Preparations were accordingly made;--the year of our Lord 1802, was
cut upon the foundation-stone, in which a hole was perforated for
depositing a glass phial, containing a small parchment scroll, setting
forth the intention of the building; the official constitution of the
Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses; and the name of their
Engineer. It also contained several of the current coins of George
III. in gold, silver, and copper. The day fixed for the ceremony was
the 15th of May. The weather was dry and tolerably agreeable, though
cold, with snow upon the ground; the thermometer by Fahrenheit’s
scale indicating 35° in the shade at noon. A number of the principal
inhabitants, and a crowd of cottagers assembled. Things being
arranged for the ceremony, the author, assisted by Mr James Cleghorn,
foreman for the works, applied the square and plummet-level to the
foundation-stone, in compliance with the ancient custom of the craft.
The phial was then deposited in the cavity prepared for it in the
stone, and carefully covered up with sand, when the masonic ceremony
concluded in the usual manner. The Reverend Walter Traill, minister
of the parish, who obligingly attended on this occasion, now stood
forward, and, after a most impressive prayer, imploring the blessing
of heaven upon the intended purposes of the building, delivered an
address, which, from the singularity of the subject, and the excellency
of the matter, shall here be inserted.

[Sidenote: Rev. Walter Trail’s Address.]

“This moment is auspicious. The foundation-stone is laid of a building
of incalculable value;--a work of use, not of luxury. Pyramids were
erected by the pride of kings, to perpetuate the memory of men, whose
ambition enslaved and desolated the world. But it is the benevolent
intention of our Government, on this spot to erect a tower, not to
exhaust, but to increase the wealth, and protect the commerce of
this happy kingdom.--To the goodness of GOD, in the first place, we
are indebted for a degree of prosperity unknown to other nations. In
the next place, we owe our happiness to our insular situation, and
attention to maritime affairs. Faction and civil war have, at this
period, laid waste the fairest countries of Europe; while peace has
flourished within our walls. Agriculture, commerce, and their kindred
arts, have prospered in our land. British oak hath triumphed; victory
hath been attached to the British flag; and British fleets have ridden
triumphant on the wings of the wind.--Consider the great national
objects for which this building will be erected. To protect commerce,
and to guard the lives of those intrepid men who for us cheerfully
brave the fury of the waves, and the rage of battle. The mariner, when
he returns to the embraces of his wife and children, after ascribing
praise to the Great Giver of safety, shall bless the friendly light
which guided him over the deep, and recommend to the protection of
heaven, those who urged, who planned, and who executed the work.--This
day shall be remembered with gratitude. It shall be recorded, that
at the beginning of a new century, the pious care of Government was
extended to this remote island. Those rocks, so fatal to the most
brave and honourable part of the community, shall lose their terror,
and safety and life shall spring from danger and death.--Even you, my
friends, who are employed in the execution of this work, are objects
of regard and gratitude. You have, for a season, left the society of
your families and friends, to perform a work of high interest to your
country and to mankind. I am confident, that you will act, in all
respects, so as to deserve and obtain the esteem of the people who
now surround you. I hope that they will discharge to you every duty
of Christian hospitality, and that you will have no occasion to feel
that you are strangers in a strange land.--It becomes us to remember,
that all the affairs of men are dependent on Providence. We may exert
talents and industry, but GOD only can bless our exertions with
success. Let our trust be in him. Let us humbly hope that he will bless
this day and this undertaking. Through his aid, may there arise from
this spot, a tower of safety and protection to the mariner of every
tongue and nation.”

The whole of this scene was very impressive; and the plain, decent, and
respectable appearance of the people collected on the occasion, was
none of the least interesting parts of it.

[Sidenote: Beacon Completed.]

Having now got the works at the Start Point of Sanday fairly commenced,
and some progress made in opening the quarries, the author left
the Orkney Islands, and continued his voyage westward to the other
Light-houses on the coast. Every thing having succeeded well at the
Start Point, the Beacon was finished in the month of September. It
was terminated at the height of 100 feet above the medium level of
the sea, with a circular ball of masonry measuring fifteen feet in
circumference.--But this tower having been afterwards converted into
a light-house, it seems to be unnecessary here to enter into a more
particular specification of the building.

_Inchkeith Light-house._

[Sidenote: ~1803.~]

Much inconveniency had been experienced, and many fatal accidents had
occurred, in the Frith of Forth, from the want of a light to direct
ships past the island of Inchkeith into the Roads of Leith. In the
course of the winter of 1801, from this cause, a very severe misfortune
happened at the rocks lying off Kinghornness, on the Fifeshire coast,
by the loss of the smack Aberdeen, Freeman, master, one of the traders
bound from Aberdeen to London. This vessel had been put up the Frith in
a storm, loaded with a general cargo, which was valued at upwards of L.
10,000, and had on board 13 passengers, besides the ship’s crew, all
of whom perished, excepting the master, the mate, and a lady. So very
distressing an accident, with other instances of a similar nature,
produced a strong sensation with the public. It was also found, that
vessels which, by the direction of the light of May, had entered the
Frith of Forth in the course of a long winter night, could not yet
venture to hold on their course, up the Frith, owing to the difficulty
of passing the island of Inchkeith, and the foul and rocky ground in
its neighbourhood. The mariner was thus obliged to _lie off and on_
in this narrow sea, without being able to run for the anchorage of
Leith Roads till day-light: but, before morning, the wind perhaps
had shifted; and, instead of being in a safe anchorage, he was too
often driven to sea. The author has, indeed, known of a ship in this
situation, which drifted before the wind even to the coast of Norway.

[Sidenote: Inchkeith Light-house resolved on.]

It was from considerations of this kind that an application was brought
forward by the Corporation of the Trinity House of Leith, for the
erection of a light-house upon Inchkeith; and the Commissioners of the
Northern Light-houses, also viewing Leith Roads as a naval station and
rendezvous for his Majesty’s ships on the North Sea station, resolved
upon the propriety and expediency of this measure in the year 1802.
Various difficulties occurred about procuring the ground necessary for
this establishment, not indeed with the noble proprietor of the island,
the Duke of Buccleuch, who forthwith ordered every facility to be given
to the work; but time was lost in arranging matters with his Grace’s
agent. It was not, therefore, till the summer of the year 1803, that
the building on Inchkeith commenced, and the masonry of the light-house
was not ready for the light-room till the following year, when the
light was exhibited on the 1st day of September 1804. Its position is
described as follows:

[Sidenote: Description of Inchkeith Light-house.]

“The Light-house erected on the island of Inchkeith, situate in the
Frith of Forth and county of Mid-Lothian, in North Lat. 56° 2´, and
Long. 3° 8´. west of London, is elevated 220 feet above the medium
level of the sea, of which height the building forms 45 feet. The light
is from oil with reflectors, and will be seen from every point of
the compass as a _Stationary light_” (since altered to a _Revolving
light_, as shall be afterwards noticed). “From the light-house Ely-ness
bears, by compass, E. NE., distant 16 miles; Light of May E. ½ N.,
distant 23 miles; Fidra Island E. by S., distant 14 miles; Craig
Waugh Rock SE. by S. ½ S., distant 4¾ miles; Leith-Harbour Light
SW. ¼ S., distant 3½ miles; Gunnet Rock W., distant 1½ mile;
Ox-Scares W. by N. ½ N., distant 4½ miles; Inchcolm W. NW. ¼ N.,
distant 6½ miles; Pettycur Light N. NW. ¼ N., distant 2½ miles;
Kinghorn-ness N. NW. ¾ N. distant 2¼ miles.”

[Sidenote: Originally proposed to be a Leading light.]

This light-house was originally proposed to have been made a double
or _leading light_, to guide ships up the Frith, and especially past
the dangerous rock called the Ox-Scares, to the anchorage above
Queensferry; but it was thought advisable to erect a light, in the
first instance, upon the top of the island, and to defer the erection
of a lower or western light till the effect of a single light should
be tried. Such, however, appears to have been the benefit of the light
on the top of the island, together with a cast-iron Beacon, which, at
this time, was erected on the Ox-Scares, that the want of a second
light-house on Inchkeith does not seem to have been much felt.

[Sidenote: Light duty for Inchkeith modified.]

By the existing acts of Parliament, the light-house Board is entitled
to take the full duties of three halfpence _per_ ton, from the local
trade of the Frith of Forth, for the light of Inchkeith, instead of
which, only one halfpenny _per_ ton is exacted from such vessels as
are not liable to the duty, in consequence of passing some other of
the Northern Light-houses. The great utility of this light-house, and
the equitable and liberal manner in which these duties are exacted,
gave much satisfaction to the maritime and commercial interests of the

[Sidenote: Accommodation of Light-keepers’ houses extended.]

It may here be proper to observe, that the erection of Inchkeith
Light-house, forms a new era in the works of the Commissioners of
the Northern Light-houses; which, as formerly observed, had been
necessarily executed on the smallest, plainest and most simple plan
that could be devised, and with such materials as could be easily
transported, and most speedily erected, so as to meet the urgent calls
of shipping, and answer the very limited state of the funds. But
from the thriving condition of the trade of the country, the yearly
duties which, in 1790, amounted only to L. 1477:5:1; in the year 1802
encreased to L. 4386:7:5. It was, therefore, considered advisable, from
its being ultimately more economical, to erect and finish the several
works of the light-house Board in the most substantial manner, and more
like the buildings of a permanent National Establishment.

[Sidenote: Houses covered with leaden roofs.]

[Sidenote: Disadvantage of slated roofs.]

From the vicinity of Inchkeith to sandstone quarries, the buildings
there were executed of aislar masonry. A platform roof covered
with lead, and defended by a parapet wall, was adopted for the
light-keepers’ house, instead of a slated roof, with garrets of the
common construction; a slated roof being not only more liable to be
injured by high winds, but when the attic apartments of such houses are
occupied, the premises became more exposed to accident from fire. The
slated roof, with iron nails, is also subject to decay, owing to the
saline particles with which the air is impregnated, and the sprays of
the sea, which, even in such situations as Inchkeith, are often blown
over the island, though the site of the light-house is about 175 feet
in height. Indeed, at all the original light-house stations in the
north, the nails were soon rusted, and the slates getting loose, were
often blown off in great numbers, so that in the very depth of Winter,
the light-keepers have been obliged to make such a requisition as the
following: “A slater is much wanted here, to repair the roof of the
house, as upwards of 50 slates have been blown away during the late
gales.” Instead, also, of a dwelling-house consisting of only two small
apartments as formerly, the house at Inchkeith has four rooms, with
other conveniencies, laid out for the accommodation of the families of
a principal light-keeper and an assistant, who are now appointed to the
charge of each of the Northern Light-houses.

[Sidenote: Construction of Light rooms improved.]

[Sidenote: Rendered Fire-proof.]

An entire change also took place at this period upon the construction
of the Light-rooms and the reflecting apparatus, as well as in the
extension and enlargement of the accommodation for the light-keepers.
The early light-rooms were constructed wholly of timber, excepting the
window-sash frames, which were made of cast-iron. The outside of the
wooden cupola, covered with sheet copper, and the ceiling and floor
with fire-proof plates of tinned iron. But it soon appeared that this
construction was liable to great objections, particularly to the risk
of accidental fire. The timber roof being also unavoidably shut up
from the air, and exposed to a degree of heat sufficient to dry it
to the state of tinder, its strength and fibrous qualities were soon
lost, and the buildings in danger of being destroyed by the storms of
winter. At Inchkeith, on the contrary, the roof is framed of iron, and
covered with copper, and the floor is laid with flag-stones; while the
window-frames, and all the materials exposed to the immediate action of
the weather, are made of copper; the windows are glazed with plates of
polished glass, measuring 29 inches by 18 inches, and ¼ of an inch
in thickness, instead of sash panes of crown-glass, measuring only
12 inches by 8 inches, by which so many astragals were unavoidably
introduced into the windows, that much of the light was obstructed and

[Sidenote: Reflectors of Silvered Mirror-glass.]

[Sidenote: Reflectors of Copper, plated with Silver.]

[Sidenote: The use of Argand lamps and Spermaceti Oil introduced.]

The reflectors of the first of the Northern Light-houses were formed
to the parabolic curve, upon principles susceptible of considerable
accuracy; their powers were, however, small from their reflecting
surfaces being composed of facets of silvered mirror-glass, and one
point only of each facet coinciding with the curve of the parabola.
As many of the rays are thus lost or weakened by transmission through
the glass of the reflector, the light is much less brilliant than when
reflected from a metallic speculum of a uniform parabolic figure,
of a more white and dense body, such as silver. Another objection
to mirror-glass reflectors, is the great number of interstices or
subdivisions between the pieces of glass, which unavoidably induces
a want of cleanliness and uniformity in the reflecting surface as a
whole. The improvement upon this part of the reflecting apparatus,
as more recently fitted up, consists in employing sheets of copper,
plated or coated with silver, which, with much labour and great nicety
of workmanship, are formed as nearly as may be into the parabolic
curve,--a subject to which we shall again recur, in treating of the
reflectors for the Bell Rock Light-house. Instead, also, of whale
oil, and the use of the Common lamp, spermaceti oil, and the Argand
lamp, were introduced at Inchkeith. Upon these principles, all the new
erections of the Northern Light-houses are constructed; and such of the
original light-houses, as require considerable repairs, are directed by
the Board to be altered to the improved construction. But the erection
of such a light-house as that of Inchkeith, in place of requiring an
expenditure of only about L. 1000 like the original establishments,
cost upwards of L. 5000.

[Sidenote: Inscription on Inchkeith Light-house.]

The light-house of Inchkeith having been erected before the late
Mr Smith, the author’s predecessor, had retired from the situation
of Engineer for the Northern Light-houses, and being the first of
the light-houses erected upon the coast of Scotland on the recently
improved principles, it is thought proper to give a plan and
elevation of the house and offices, in one of the plates of this
work, as a specimen of what is considered a very complete light-house
establishment. It may also be noticed here, that the elevation of the
light-house tower bears a tablet with the following inscription:--“For
the direction of Mariners, and for the benefit of Commerce, this
Light-house was erected by order of the Commissioners of the Northern
Light-houses. It was founded on the 18th day of May, in the year 1803,
and lighted on the 1st of September 1804. THOMAS SMITH, _Engineer_.”

[Sidenote: Pilots and Shipwrecked Seamen receive shelter.]

As part of the establishment at Inchkeith, a guard-room is provided
for pilots. In the event also of shipwreck upon the coast, in the
neighbourhood of any of the light-house stations, from the more
extended state of the buildings, the unfortunate seamen are not only
directed to be lodged in the best manner that the circumstances of
the case will admit, but, in necessitous cases, ship-wrecked mariners
have even been allowed a sum of money by the Light-house Board, to
clothe and carry them to their respective homes. In this way, it has
not unfrequently fallen to the lot of the keepers of the Northern
Light-houses, to save the lives of perishing seamen, to succour many
poor fishermen and pilots, as well as the half starved and unlucky
individuals of _water parties_, when driven by stress of weather to
these lone places of abode, for safety and shelter. In these varied
forms, it will not be too much to suppose, that the practice of
protecting the navigator in distress, which is said to have formed a
chief part of the design of the _Fire Towers_ and _Nautical Colleges_
of the ancients, is thus in some measure restored.

_Start Point Light-house._

[Sidenote: ~1806.~]

[Sidenote: Shipwrecks still take place on Sanday.]

[Sidenote: Striking examples of this.]

Notwithstanding the precautions which had been taken to prevent the
frequent occurrence of shipwreck upon the island of Sanday, by the
erection of a Beacon or Tower of masonry on the Start Point, the
loss of ships did not appear to be diminished. It had even become
proverbial with some of the inhabitants to observe, “that if wrecks
were to happen, they might as well be sent to the poor island of
Sanday as any where else.” On this and the neighbouring islands, the
inhabitants have certainly had their share of wrecked goods; for here
the eye is presented with these melancholy remains in almost every
form. For example, although quarries are to be met with generally in
these islands, and the stones are very suitable for building dikes,
yet instances occur of the land being inclosed, even to a considerable
extent, with ship timbers. The author has actually seen a park paled
round, chiefly with cedar wood and mahogany from the wreck of a
Honduras built ship; and in one island, after the wreck of a ship
laden with wine, the inhabitants have been known to take claret to
their barley meal porridge, instead of their usual beverage. On
complaining to one of the pilots of the badness of his boat’s sails,
he replied to the author with some degree of pleasantry, “Had it been
His (God’s) will that you came na here wi’ these lights, we might
a’ had better sails to our boats and more o’ other things.” It may
further be noticed, that when some of Lord Dundas’s farms are to be
let in these islands, a competition takes place for the lease, and
it is _bona fide_ understood, that a much higher rent is paid than
the lands would otherwise give, were it not for the chance of making
considerably by the agency and advantages attending shipwrecks on the
shores of the respective farms. The author was so struck with some of
these circumstances, that he collected, and shall here insert a list
of shipwrecks for the twelve years immediately following the erection
of North Ronaldsay light-house, in procuring which he was obligingly
assisted by the Rev. William Grant, minister of Cross-kirk parish,
including the island of North Ronaldsay, and part of Sanday.

[Sidenote: List of Shipwrecks for Twelve Years.]

  LIST OF WRECKS on the contiguous islands of North Ronaldsay, Sanday
  and Stronsay, during a period of Twelve Years, immediately after the
  erection of North Ronaldsay Light-house, in 1789.

 A: Year.
 B: Voyage.
 C: Cargo.
 D: Tonnage.
 E: Supposed Value of Ship and Cargo.

 |  A  |            B            |        C         |  D  |     E      |
 |1789.|Norway to America,       |Spirits, &c.      | 150 | L. 3500 0 0|
 |1790.|Hamburgh to do.          |Cordage, &c.      | 100 |    2800 0 0|
 |1792.|Norway to Wales,         |Wood and Iron,    |  90 |    1100 0 0|
 |---- |Sweden to Liverpool,     |Grain,            | 120 |    3100 0 0|
 |---- |  Do. to Greenock,       |Timber,           | 400 |    3400 0 0|
 |1793.|Norway to Spain,         |Fish and Oil,     | 100 |    2000 0 0|
 |---- |Copenhagen to Santa Cruz,|Silks, &c.        | 250 |  35,000 0 0|
 |1794.|Copenhagen to Surinam,   |Muslins, &c.      | 250 |  20,000 0 0|
 |---- |  Do.      to Dundee,    |Flax, &c.         |  90 |    2000 0 0|
 |1795.|  Do.      to America,   |Cloth, &c.        | 300 |  12,200 0 0|
 |1796.|  Do.      to Liverpool, |Timber,           | 250 |    2500 0 0|
 |---- |  Do.      to Whitehaven,|Timber,           | 150 |    1300 0 0|
 |---- |Liverpool to Ostend,     |Wine and Rum,     | 400 |  15,300 0 0|
 |1797.|Baltic to Liverpool,     |Grain,            | 120 |    3000 0 0|
 |1798.|Sweden to Hull,          |Timber and Iron,  | 200 |    2500 0 0|
 |---- |Norway to Liverpool.     |Timber,           | 200 |    1800 0 0|
 |---- |  Do.  to America,       |Cloth, &c.        | 200 |    5000 0 0|
 |---- |Altona to    Do.         |Spirits and Cloth,| 450 |  18,000 0 0|
 |---- |London to Gibraltar,     |Stores,           | 300 |    5000 0 0|
 |1799.|  Do.  to Dublin,        |Staves,           | 150 |    2200 0 0|
 |1800.|Hamburgh to America,     |Cambric and Linen,| 200 |  45,000 0 0|
 |---- |Dantzic to Liverpool,    |Timber,           | 900 |  10,000 0 0|
 |                                                           ----------|
 |22 vessels wrecked in 12 years, supposed value         L. 196,400 0 0|

[Sidenote: Start Point Tower proposed to be converted into a

[Sidenote: North Ronaldsay Light-house to be converted into a Beacon.]

This list of shipwrecks strongly points out the dangerous nature of
the navigation of the seas and friths of the northern islands of
Orkney. From a consideration of these numerous accidents, being almost
at the rate of two wrecks in the year, and seeing the mangled remains
of some fine ships which still appeared upon the island of Sanday, the
author was induced to bring this matter again under the notice of the
Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, in his report to the Board
in the year 1805, when he proposed that the Start Point Beacon should
be converted into a light-house, and that North Ronaldsay light should
be discontinued, and its tower converted into a beacon, as wrecks were
found to happen comparatively seldom upon that island, while hardly a
year passed without instances of this kind on the island of Sanday;
for, owing to the projecting points of this strangely formed island,
the lowness and whiteness of its eastern shores, and the wonderful
manner in which the scanty patches of land are intersected with lakes
and pools of water, it becomes even in day-light a deception, and has
often been fatally mistaken for an open sea. The removal of the light
from North Ronaldsay to Sanday, was also calculated to be equally, if
not more, useful to the navigation of North Ronaldsay Frith; the Start
Point being only four miles from the sunken rock called the Reef-dyke,
as will be seen from the general chart of the coast which accompanies
this work. It therefore appeared that if only a single light were
allowed for the protection of this coast, it would be much better upon
Sanday than on North Ronaldsay.

[Sidenote: Opinion of persons conversant with the Navigation of these

On this subject, however, the author was instructed to take the opinion
of persons acquainted with the navigation of these seas. Accordingly,
when on his annual voyage to the Northern Light-houses, he submitted
the subject to the consideration of Mr William Ellis, Commander of the
Ross Revenue Cutter, who had then been cruising for several months off
these islands, by order of Government, for intelligence relative to the
motions of the Dutch fleet, which then threatened to attempt a landing
on the Western Coast of Ireland. It was also submitted to Mr Riddoch,
Collector, and Mr Manson, Comptroller of the Customs, at Kirkwall; to
Mr John Traill, Mr Fotheringham, and Mr Strang of Sanday; and to the
ship-masters of Kirkwall and Stromness. These gentlemen all united in
opinion as to the superior usefulness of a light upon the island of

[Sidenote: Light-house resolved on.]

This measure having been resolved on by the Board, the plans were
remitted, with powers to proceed, to Mr William Rae, (now Sir William
Rae, Bart. Lord Advocate of Scotland,) who was then Sheriff of the
county of Orkney. The works at the Start Point were accordingly
commenced early in the summer of 1805; by the month of November the
light-room was finished, and the light exhibited on the 1st day of
January 1806. Intimation was at the same time given to the public,
that the beacon or tower of masonry erected in the year 1803, upon
the island of Sanday, having been found insufficient for preventing
the numerous shipwrecks upon the low shores of that island, had been
converted into a light-house.

[Sidenote: Description of Start Point Light.]

The Start Point of Sanday is situate in the county of Orkney, in
North Lat. 59° 20´, and Long. 2° 34´ west of London, from which North
Ronaldsay light-house Tower bears by compass, N. NE. ½ E., distant 8
miles, and the Lamb Head of Stronsay SW., distant 15 miles. The light
at the Start Point is from oil with reflectors, elevated 100 feet
above the medium level of the sea, and is visible from all points of
the compass, at the distance of 15 miles, in a favourable state of the
atmosphere. To distinguish this light from the other lights on this
coast, it is known to mariners as a _Revolving light, without colour_,
exhibiting a brilliant light once in every minute, and becoming
gradually less luminous; to a distant observer it totally disappears.
In this manner, each periodic revolution of the reflector-frame,
alternately shows a brilliant light, and a light becoming fainter and
more obscure, until it be totally eclipsed.

[Sidenote: The Foreman and Artificers sail for Leith in the Traveller.]

The alteration of the Start Point beacon into a light-house, and
the erection of houses for the light-keepers, were placed under the
management of Mr George Peebles, an experienced mason, and executed
with every possible attention. When the works were completed, he, and
such of the artificers as had been retained, proceeded to Stromness
on the mainland of Orkney, from whence they were most likely to get a
passage to the southward. The party consisted of six in number; and
Charles Peebles, the foreman’s brother, wishing to go directly to
his native place, took his passage in a vessel bound from Stromness
to Anstruther, while Mr George Peebles, and the remaining four men,
embarked on board of a schooner, called the Traveller, Cruickshanks
master, bound for Leith.

[Sidenote: The Traveller is wrecked.]

[Sidenote: Captain Manby’s Apparatus much wanted.]

This vessel sailed with a fair wind early on the 24th of December 1806.
On the following morning they got sight of Kinnaird Head light-house,
in Aberdeenshire, and had the prospect of speedily reaching the Frith
of Forth; but the wind having suddenly shifted to the south-east,
increased to a tremendous gale, which did much damage on the coast. The
Traveller immediately _put about_, and steered in quest of some safe
harbour in Orkney. At two o’clock in the afternoon, she passed through
the Pentland Frith, and got into the bay of Long Hope; but could
not reach the proper anchorage; and, at three o’clock, both anchors
were _let go_ in an outer roadstead. The storm still continuing with
unabated force, the cables parted or broke, and the vessel drifted on
the island of Flotta. The utmost efforts of those on board to pass
a rope to the shore, with the assistance of the inhabitants of the
island, proved ineffectual, (for want of some apparatus like Captain
Manby’s); the vessel struck upon a shelving rock, and, night coming on,
sunk in three fathoms water.

[Sidenote: The Foreman and four of the Artificers are drowned.]

Some of the unfortunate crew and passengers attempted to swim ashore,
but in the darkness of the night, they either lost their way, or were
dashed upon the rocks by the surge of the sea; while those who retained
hold of the rigging of the ship, being worn out with fatigue and the
piercing coldness of the weather during a long winter night, died
before morning,--when the shore presented the dreadful spectacle of
the wreck of no fewer than five vessels, with many lifeless bodies,
the mournful subjects of the care and pity of the islanders. In one
of these wrecks, all on board were lost; and, in the Traveller, only
the cabin-boy escaped. This poor boy, from whom these particulars were
learned, had, for a time, been sheltered from the severity of the
blast, by one of the crew, but being at length left alone, he clung to
the top-mast, from which he was with great difficulty removed in the
morning, when the storm had somewhat abated.

A very trifling circumstance prevented the vessel bound for Anstruther,
from leaving Stromness along with the Traveller, so that Charles
Peebles escaped this gale, and arrived with the sad tidings of the fate
of his brother and companions. In Mr George Peebles, the light-house
service lost a most active and faithful servant, whose next charge
would have been at the operations of the Bell Rock light-house. From
the peculiar circumstances of this case, the Commissioners were pleased
to grant small annuities to the mother of the foreman, and also to the
family of another of the sufferers.

_Bell Rock Light-house._

[Sidenote: ~1807.~]

In the prosecution of the plan of this introductory account of
the Northern Light-houses, we may observe that the attention of
the Commissioners was occupied with the erection of the Bell Rock
Light-house, during the years 1807, 8, 9, and 10. But as the detail
of the operations of these four years forms the chief object of this
work, it is not necessary that they should be further noticed here. We
therefore proceed to the next operations of the Board, in the order of

_North Ronaldsay Beacon._

[Sidenote: ~1809.~]

[Sidenote: North Ronaldsay Light extinguished, and its Tower converted
into a Beacon.]

It having been considered superfluous to have two light-houses on
this part of the coast, within 8 miles of each other, the Light-house
Board resolved to extinguish North Ronaldsay light, and convert its
tower into a sea-mark, or beacon without a light. It was accordingly
intimated in the newspapers of the principal ports of the United
kingdom that the light on the Island of North Ronaldsay, in Orkney,
situated in North Lat. 59° 40´, Long. 2° 15´ west of London, would
be discontinued, and cease to be lighted from and after the 1st day
of June 1809; but that the Light-house Tower would be preserved as a
Beacon on the coast, by the erection of a Circular Ball of masonry,
measuring 8 feet in diameter, instead of a Light-room. This beacon
bears from the revolving light on the Start Point of Sanday, N.NE.,
½ E. by compass, distant 8 miles, which continues to be lighted
as heretofore, the Start Point having been found the most centrical
position for a light-house to warn the mariner of his approach to the
low shores of the North Isles of Orkney.

_Isle of May._

[Sidenote: ~1814.~]

[Sidenote: Light of May first Lighted 1635.]

[Sidenote: Patent ratified 1641.]

The island of May holds a prominent position at the entrance of the
Frith of Forth, as will be seen by referring to the charts of the
coast which accompany this work. From its connection also with the
estuary leading to the Capital of Scotland, and the principal ports of
her commerce, the light of May seems to have been the earliest public
light on our shores. Over the entrance door of the old light-house
tower, a stone, neatly cut into the figure by which the sun is usually
represented, bears the date 1635. It appears, also, from the printed
acts of the Scottish Parliament, Vol. v. p. 585., that power was
granted, in the reign of Charles I., to James Maxwell of Innerwick, and
John Cunninghame of Barnes, to erect a light-house upon the Isle of
May, and collect certain duties from shipping for its maintenance: The
patent for this purpose, was ratified by the Scots Parliament in 1641.

[Sidenote: Much complained of after the Union.]

The duties leviable for the light of May produced much dissatisfaction
after the Union, English and Irish vessels having been charged with
double rates, as foreigners. There was, besides, a general dislike to
any thing that was payable in the form of a tax being held as private
property. This light being also a coal-fire, exposed in an open choffer
to the vicissitudes of the weather, was found to be very insufficient.
After the appointment of a Light-house Board in Scotland, in the year
1786, the shipping interest often expressed a desire that the light
of May should be included as one of the Northern Lights; that it
might undergo the most recent improvements; that, according to the
spirit and conditions of the Northern Light-house acts, the invidious
distinction between the shipping of the same kingdom, with regard to
the light-house duties, might be done away; and also that there might
be some prospect of the duties being modified, and ultimately ceasing.
In the year 1809, the author foreseeing, that notwithstanding the
erection of the Bell Rock light-house, the navigation of this part of
the coast would still be very incomplete, unless the light of May were
improved, took an opportunity of bringing this subject under the notice
of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses; but it did not then
appear that this could be taken up by the Board, unless it were at the
instance of the proprietor.

[Sidenote: Family of Scotstarvit become Proprietors of the Island.]

[Sidenote: Chamber of Commerce get the Light Improved.]

[Sidenote: Wemyss Coal preferred for the Lights.]

The family of Scotstarvit, into whose hands the property of the island
and light of May came by purchase, in 1714, along with the estate of
Westbarnes, in East Lothian, had long been solicited by the trade of
the Frith of Forth, to have the light made better, either by enlarging
the choffer for containing the coals, or by altering it to an oil light
with reflectors. Statements to this effect having been laid before
the proprietor, by the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh, a Committee
of that body visited the island in the year 1786, and reported on
the state of the light. In consequence of the representation of this
Committee, the choffer was enlarged to the capacity of a square of
three feet; and, instead of about 200 tons of coal _per annum_,
formerly consumed, the quantity of fuel was now doubled. The Chamber
further recommended, that the stock of coals, hitherto exposed to the
open air on the island, should in future be kept under cover, and that
the supply should be invariably got from the collieries of Wemyss,
which were preferred as fittest for maintaining a steady light, Wemyss
coal being then used at Heligoland, and other coal-lights upon the

[Sidenote: Light of May considered the best Coal-Light in the kingdom.]

[Sidenote: Portland Family get possession of the Island.]

These conditions were most readily complied with by the tutors of Miss
Scott, the proprietor; and the light of May, from that period, was
found to be very considerably improved, the choffer for containing the
fuel being about double the capacity of any other light-house choffer
on the coast of Great Britain. The light of May, from this period,
may therefore be described as the most powerful coal-light in the
kingdom, although, from its exposure, it was still found to be very
unsteady, in bad weather, when most required by the mariner. Lime-kilns
and other accidental open fires upon the neighbouring shores, were
also apt to be mistaken for the Isle of May choffer. To obviate such
dangerous mistakes, there was no other method but the introduction of
a light from oil, with reflectors, inclosed in a glazed light-room.
The Trinity-house of Leith, in the year 1790, presented a memorial to
this effect, to the Duke of Portland, into whose possession the light
and Isle of May had come by his Grace’s marriage with Miss Scott of
Scotstarvit. But after many fruitless applications urged from time to
time by the Merchants of Leith, to have the light altered, the measure
was at length given up by them as hopeless.

[Sidenote: Loss of the Nymphen and Pallas Frigates.]

[Sidenote: Their prize-ship arrives in safety.]

[Sidenote: Nine men drowned.]

Early in the morning of the 19th day of December 1810, however, two
of his Majesty’s ships, the frigates Nymphen and Pallas, had the
misfortune to be wrecked near Dunbar, in consequence, it is believed,
of the light of a lime-kiln on the coast of Haddingtonshire having
been mistaken for the coal light of the island of May. These frigates
having come along the northern coast of Scotland, their situation, as
may be seen from the annexed maps, was very different from that of
ships approaching the land from a distant voyage, who are much more
liable to mistakes of this kind. But what renders the error in this
instance more unaccountable is, that one of the ships had even sent a
boat ashore at Johnshaven, on the opposite coast of Kincardineshire, in
the afternoon of the day preceding their loss; and the other, about the
same time and place, dispatched a small prize for Leith Roads, under
the command of a Midshipman,--who, in his course up the Frith of Forth,
saw the Bell Rock floating light, (for at this time the light-house was
not completed),--then the lights on the islands of May and Inchkeith
in succession, and before day-light in the morning of the 19th he
anchored his little vessel in the Roads. In reporting the prize to the
Admiral at Leith, this young gentleman expressed his surprise that
the frigates had not reached their station before him. In the course
of the forenoon of the same day, however, an express arrived, stating
the circumstance of the loss of the Pallas, which had happened in the
course of the night, about two miles to the eastward of Dunbar. Soon
afterwards, another notice arrived announcing to the Admiral the loss
of the Nymphen Frigate in the same manner, and from the same mistake.
It is not a little surprising, that although these ships had sailed
in company, and were wrecked within a few miles of each other, their
similar fate was perfectly unknown by the respective crews, till late
in the day on which the accidents happened. It was, however, so far
fortunate, that although the ships became total wrecks, only nine men
were lost of their joint crews, amounting to about 600 men; all of whom
might probably have perished, from the rocky and exposed shore on which
they were stranded, had not the weather been very moderate.

[Sidenote: Lord Melville applies to the Light-house Board about the
Isle of May Light.]

[Sidenote: Duke of Portland proposes to alter the Light;]

[Sidenote: And proposes that the Commissioners should become Lessees,
which is rejected.]

[Sidenote: The Duke demands L. 63,000 for the Light duties and Island.]

Immediately after the loss of these two fine frigates, valued at
not less than L. 100,000, Lord Viscount Melville, first Lord of the
Admiralty, applied to the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses,
proposing that the light of May should be assumed as one of the
northern lights, and forthwith put under proper regulations. It may
here be proper to notice, that, prior to this accident, the Duke of
Portland entertained serious intentions of altering this light; and
the author had been employed to report to his Grace on its alteration,
from the use of pit-coal to oil, with reflectors, the expence of which
he had estimated at the annual sum of L. 600. The communication from
the Admiralty gave rise to a correspondence between the Light-house
Commissioners and the Duke of Portland, who proposed to give the
Light-house Board an allowance of L. 600 _per annum_, for taking burden
of the light of May, while his Grace was to continue to levy the
duties. This proposal was rejected on the part of the Commissioners,
who declined becoming lessees, under the existing acts or constitution
of their Board; and it was ultimately concluded, that they could only
take up this measure as purchasers for the public, in order to abolish
the charge on English and Irish vessels paying as foreigners, and to
lessen the duty for that light to the trade in general. In the present
state of the light-house funds, this purchase could only be made by a
special act of Parliament, and with pecuniary aid from Government:
as the sum demanded by the Duke for the island, and the right to the
light-duties, was unavoidably great, amounting to no less than Sixty
Thousand Guineas.

[Sidenote: Memorial presented to the Admiralty.]

[Sidenote: Isle of May and Duties purchased at L. 60,000.]

In the mean time, Mr Cuningham, Secretary to the Light-house Board,
was directed to acquaint Mr Walker, the Duke of Portland’s agent,
that the Commissioners could not treat for upholding the light of
May for payment of an annual sum. A memorial was then drawn up for
the Admiralty, of the whole proceedings in this measure, which was
presented by Sir William Rae, Bart., on the part of the Light-house
Board; when their Lordships were pleased to give their countenance
and support to a bill for the purchase of the light duties and island
of May. This bill was accordingly brought into Parliament, and passed
in the Session of 1814, authorising a loan of L. 30,000 to be made
from the Treasury to the Commissioners of Northern Light-houses, and
empowering them to make the purchase from the Duke of Portland, for the
sum of L. 60,000.

[Sidenote: Duty of the Light of May reduced by the Act of 1814.]

This important transaction having been closed, the Light-house Board,
in terms of this act (46th George III. chap. cxxxvi.) were empowered
to reduce the light-duty of the Isle of May, to all _British_ vessels,
from one penny half-penny, as collected heretofore, to one penny _per_
ton, when English and Irish ships were no longer treated as foreigners,
by paying double dues. Immediate measures were also taken for altering
and improving the light. It was, however, too late at the end of the
session of 1814, to commence operations on the island; but, in the
following summer, the new light-house was erected, and a light from oil
with reflectors was exhibited, on the 1st day of February 1816, after a
coal-light had been continued here for 181 years, or from 1635.

[Sidenote: Additional Apartments at the Isle of May.]

As the island of May lies about half way between the light-houses of
Inch Keith and the Bell Rock, it was thought proper to have two or
three apartments in the May Light-house for the reception of such
members of the Light-house Board, as might happen to be detained by
contrary winds in occasional visits to the Bell Rock, upon which
landing is often very difficult and precarious, depending both on the
state of the weather and the tides. The dwelling-house at the Isle of
May, therefore, is larger than would otherwise have been required for
the accommodation of the two light-keepers and their families.

[Sidenote: Notice given of the alterations at Isle of May and

In consequence of this change upon the light of May, notice was
given to the public, that it had been assumed one of the Northern
Light-houses, and that the Commissioners had directed a new
light-house, upon improved principles, to be erected, which would not
only alter its former appearance, but also occasion a change on the
light of Inchkeith, situate about twenty-two miles farther up the
Frith of Forth. The following description of the Isle of May light was

[Sidenote: Description of the Light of May.]

[Sidenote: Old Light-house converted into a Pilot’s Guard-room.]

“The light-house on the Island of May, is situate at the entrance of
the Frith of Forth, in North Lat. 56° 12´, and Long. 2° 36´ west of
London. From the light-house, Fifeness bears, by compass, N. by E.
½ E., distant five miles, and the Staple Rocks lying off Dunbar, S.
by W. ½ W., distant ten miles. The light being formerly from coal,
exposed to the weather in an open grate or choffer, was discontinued on
the night of the 1st day of February 1816, when a light from oil, with
reflectors, known to mariners as a _Stationary Light_, was exhibited.
The new light-house tower, upon the Island of May, is contiguous to
the site of the old one, and is elevated 240 feet above the medium
level of the sea, of which the masonry forms 57 feet, and is therefore
similar to the old tower in point of height. The new light is defended
from the weather in a glazed light-room, and has a uniformly _steady_
appearance, resembling a star of the first magnitude, and is seen from
all points of the compass, at the distance of about seven leagues, and
intermediately according to the state of the atmosphere.”--The old
light-house tower on the Island of May, has been reduced in height to
about 20 feet, and by directions of the Light-house Board, it has been
converted into a _guard-room_ like that upon Inchkeith, for the use and
conveniency of pilots and fishermen.

_Inchkeith Revolving Light._

[Sidenote: Description of Inchkeith Revolving Light.]

The above description, in so far as regards the appearance of the light
of May being exactly applicable to that of Inchkeith, described at page
25. of this Introduction, it was found expedient to alter it from a
stationary to a revolving light, that it might be distinguished from
the light of May, where a revolving light would have been liable to be
mistaken for the Bell Rock light, owing to the more contiguous position
of the May island to the Bell Rock.

The light upon Inchkeith, hitherto a stationary light from oil, with
reflectors, was therefore altered and converted into that description
of light known to mariners as a _Revolving light without colour_, on
the same night that the change took place upon the Isle of May. The
light of Inchkeith is seen from all points of the compass, at the
distance of five leagues in favourable weather, exhibiting a bright
light once in every minute, and gradually becoming less luminous, it
totally disappears to a distant observer. In this manner, each periodic
revolution of the reflector-frame, alternately shows a brilliant light,
which becomes fainter, and more obscure, until it is totally eclipsed.
By this alteration, the same description and appearance of the other
lights upon the coast is preserved, and the possibility of mistaking
Inchkeith light for the numerous lights on the land, with which it is
surrounded, is now also effectually prevented.


[Sidenote: ~1815.~]

[Sidenote: Additional Light proposed for the western coast on Corsewall

It had long been the wish of the mercantile interest of the Frith
of Clyde and St George’s Channel, to have a light on the coast of
Galloway, to direct ships, on the Scotch side, into the Irish Channel.
From the great amount of light-house duties collected upon the western
coast, and the extent of light-house works which had of late years been
erected upon the eastern shores, including the Bell Rock and Isle of
May light-houses, the Commissioners were desirous of accommodating
the trade of the western coast, as far as the demands of shipping
required, or the state of the light-house funds would permit. It was
accordingly resolved, that a report upon this subject, made to the
Light-house Board by the author, should be submitted to the trade of
Liverpool, Glasgow and Greenock, for their observations. Having in
this manner procured the necessary information, it was resolved that a
light-house should be erected for the benefit of this coast, upon the
northern extremity of the Mull of Galloway in Wigtonshire, on the point
of Corsewall; because, in addition to the advantages of this situation,
as an excellent direction both for the entrance of the Irish Channel
and Frith of Clyde, it would answer as a guide to the Roadstead or
anchorage of Loch Ryan.

[Sidenote: Light-houses necessary for the navigation of the Irish

In the course of the correspondence on this subject, it had been stated
by Mr Quintin Leitch, Chief Magistrate of Greenock, a gentleman well
acquainted with the navigation of these seas, that if light-houses were
erected upon the Isle of Man, these, with the lights of Copeland and
Kilwarlin, on the Irish side of the channel, together with the proposed
light on Corsewall Point, and another on the Hulin or Maiden rocks, off
the coast of Antrim, would fully protect this important part of the

[Sidenote: Foundation-stone of Corsewall Light-house laid.]

After considering the subject in its various bearings, the Board
resolved, as before noticed, on the erection of a light-house on
Corsewall Point, in the month of January 1815, and on the 17th day of
June following, the foundation-stone was laid, by Mr Quintin Leitch,
as master mason, when Mr James Spreull, Chamberlain of the city of
Glasgow, Mr Lachlan Kennedy, under whose charge the works were placed,
and the Engineer, assisted at the ceremony. In the course of the Summer
and Autumn, the tower of this light-house was got to the height of 35
feet, and some progress was also made with the walls of the house for
the light-keepers.

[Sidenote: ~1816.~]

[Sidenote: Light-house finished.]

The works at Corsewall being suspended during winter, were again
resumed in the ensuing spring. The light-room was completed in the
autumn, and the light was exhibited to the public on the night of the
15th day of November 1816, agreeably to the following description.

[Sidenote: Description of Corsewall Light.]

“Corsewall light-house is situate in the county of Wigton, in North
Lat. 55° 1´, and West Long. 5° 5´. It bears by compass, from Millour
Point, on the western side of the channel leading into Loch Ryan, W. by
S., distant about two miles; from Turnberry Point, SW. 21 miles; from
the Craig of Ailsa SS. W. 15 miles; from the Mull of Kintyre S. E. S.
31 miles; from the Hulin or Maiden rocks on the coast of Antrim, E. by
S. 20 miles; from Copeland Light-house, near the entrance of Belfast
loch, NE. ½ E. 22 miles, and from Laggan point in Galloway, NE.,
distant 3½ miles. To distinguish this light, which is from oil, with
a reflecting and revolving apparatus, from the other lights upon the
coast, it is known to mariners as a _Revolving light with colour_, and
exhibits from the same light-room a light of the natural appearance,
alternating with a light tinged with a red colour. These lights,
respectively, attain their greatest strength, or most luminous effect,
at the end of every two minutes. But, in the course of each periodic
revolution of the reflector-frame, the lights become alternately
fainter and more obscure, and, to a distant observer, are totally
eclipsed for a short period. The light-room at Corsewall is glazed all
round, but the light is hid from the mariner by the high land near
Laggan Point, towards the south, and by Turnberry Point towards the
north. This light is elevated 112 feet above the medium level of the
sea, and its most luminous side may be seen like a star of the first
magnitude, at the distance of five or six leagues, but the side tinged
red being more obscured by the colouring shades, is not seen at so
great a distance.”

_Isle of Man._

[Sidenote: Rate of Light-house duties for the Isle of Man.]

The subject of the erection of the light-houses on the Isle of Man,
having again been agitated by the merchants of Liverpool, the rates of
duty which would probably be demanded for the erection of a light-house
upon the Calf of Man, was procured from one of the agents of the
Trinity-House of London upon that coast. This schedule of duties
appearing to be high, a correspondence took place between Mr William
Laird of Liverpool, and Mr Quintin Leitch of Greenock, respecting the
rate of Scotch light-house duties, which was ultimately brought under
the notice of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-Houses, by Sir
William Rae, Bart.

[Sidenote: ~1802.~]

[Sidenote: Author’s Report on this subject.]

Reference having been made to the author relative to the expence of
erecting a light-house upon the Calf of Man, he stated to the Board,
that, in the course of a tour which he had made in the year 1802, round
the coast of Great Britain, he visited the Isle of Man, with a view to
ascertain the most eligible places for light-houses on that island,
where he considered two light-house stations to be indispensably
necessary, viz. one on the Calf of Man, to the south, and another on
the Point of Ayre, towards the north of the island. From the numerous
shipping of that district, he only calculated upon the duty of one
farthing _per_ ton upon shipping for the light-houses of both stations.
The Commissioners took this matter under consideration at the time, as
appears from their minutes of the 14th January 1803, which state, that
“Mr Stevenson had reported very strongly of the great utility which
would attend the erection of light-houses on the Isle of Man; but that
island not being within the jurisdiction either of the Commissioners of
the Northern Light-houses or Trinity Board of London, both boards seem
thereby to be prevented from accomplishing an object so much wished for
by mariners, as such an improvement upon the coast would prove a great
additional security to the navigation of those seas, and especially to
the trade of a great number of the ports of England and Ireland. In
order, therefore, that this circumstance might not be overlooked, the
Commissioners direct this notice to be taken of it in their minutes,
that if an application to Parliament should, at a future period, be
deemed necessary, they may judge how far it may not be proper in them
to apply for power to erect lights upon the Isle of Man.”

[Sidenote: Scotch Light-house Board applied to for lights on the Isle
of Man.]

When these circumstances were intimated to the merchants of Liverpool,
and especially that the rate of one farthing _per_ ton was considered a
sufficient rate of duty, the business was brought under the notice of
the Association of Shipowners and other public bodies of Liverpool,
by Mr John Gladstone, when a representation and petition from them was
presented to the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, praying,
that they would bring a bill into Parliament, to enable them to erect
the necessary light-houses on the Isle of Man.

[Sidenote: Act of 1815.]

This application having been complied with, Sir William Rae was
requested to attend to the progress of the bill, and to take the
assistance of any of the other members of the light-house board who
might happen to be in London at the time. The Isle of Man Light-house
Bill was accordingly brought forward by Mr Huskisson, in absence of Mr
Canning, member of Parliament for Liverpool, as a measure in which that
port was specially interested. But when the subject was communicated to
the late Mr Rose, M. P., one of the elder brethren of the Trinity House
of London, he requested that nothing might be done in this measure,
until he should have an opportunity of consulting with the gentlemen
of the Trinity-House, as he considered the Isle of Man to be within
the district of that board. After repeated meetings, at which Mr Rose
attended, he ultimately stated, that the Trinity Board did not consider
the Isle of Man as coming under their line of coast; and that the
Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses might, therefore, go on with
their bill. It was accordingly brought forward in the House of Commons,
and the author attended to prove the preamble of the bill in the House
of Lords; and in June 1815 it received the Royal assent.

[Sidenote: Difficulty in fixing the position of the Isle of Man lights.]

In returning towards Scotland, I embarked in the Light-house Yacht
at Liverpool, and visited the Isle of Man. It appeared, on examining
the site for the erection of a light-house on the Point of Ayre, or
northern extremity of the island, that there would be no difficulty
in fixing its place. But the case was different at the Calf Island,
as there seemed an evident advantage in having the house on a low
situation, to keep it more free from fog, and where it might also
be more in the line of direction with a dangerous reef called the
Chickens, lying about a mile into the offing. On this low position,
called Kaager Point, the high land of the Calf would have shut in
the light very much from the northward. Another situation, however,
presented itself; but, as this last station was considerably higher, it
might perhaps be found more uncertain with regard to fog resting upon
it in thick and hazy weather; and it was therefore thought prudent to
place a trusty person on the island, with directions for observing and
communicating the state of the weather for about six months, previously
to determining the site of the light-house on the Calf of Man. This
mode of inquiring into the subject, was strengthened by the report
of some intelligent persons relative to the prevailing state of the
weather at the Isle of Man, who represented that the Calf Island was
less liable to be enveloped in fog than the higher parts of the Main

[Sidenote: A person stationed on the Island to observe the state of the

In the month of August 1815, when Sir William Rae, Bart. then Sheriff
of the shire of Edinburgh, Mr Robert Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanarkshire,
and Mr Adam Duff, Sheriff of Forfarshire, Commissioners of the Northern
Light-houses, visited this island, they concurred in judging it highly
proper to make special observations on the state of the weather at
the Calf Island. In the beginning of November following, the author
accordingly sent Mr Macurich, a shipmaster in the light-house service,
to that island, with directions to reside there, and make monthly
returns of the state of the weather, agreeably to a printed form.
During his stay of seven months, it appears, upon the whole, that the
fog rested only twice upon the highest land of the Calf, while it
cleared partially below. On one of these occasions, I was on board of
the Light-house yacht, then at anchor off the island, when the fog was
for a time general; and as the weather became clear, I observed that it
first disappeared upon the lower parts of the island; and that in half
an hour the whole of the Calf was seen. In the journal of the weather
alluded to, the Calf Island is represented as often perfectly free of
fog, while the higher parts of the opposite mainland of Man, was hid in
mist. To account for this, it may be noticed, that the mass of matter
in the Calf island is much less, and the land is also much lower, than
in the main island. Part of this effect may also be ascribed to the
rapidity of the tides, which create a current of wind, particularly
in the narrow channel between the Main and Calf islands; which have
a direct tendency to clear away the fog; as I have observed at the
Skerries in the Pentland Frith, and in similar situations on different
parts of the coast, where rapid currents prevail.

[Sidenote: ~1816.~]

[Sidenote: Distinguishing Light for the Calf of Man.]

From these observations, the author was led to report to the
Commissioners, that the light-house on the Calf of Man should hold
an intermediate position between the highest part of the island,
called Bushel’s Hill, and the lower site called Kaager Point; and,
further, that by erecting two light-house towers in a certain relative
position to each other, they would point out the line of direction of
the dangerous sunken rocks called the Chickens, and by adopting that
description of light known to mariners as a _Revolving light without
Colour_, this station would be sufficiently distinguished from the
lights which surround the Isle of Man on the Scotch, Irish, and English

[Sidenote: ~1817.~]

[Sidenote: Lights of the Isle of Man completed.]

A difficulty occurred in proceeding with the Isle of Man light-houses,
from the want of funds to enable the Commissioners to proceed with the
works. The Board had already become liable for a large sum to liquidate
the payment of the purchase-money of the private right of the Portland
Family to the duties of the light of May. On this measure, and in the
erection of the Bell Rock light-house, as before noticed, there had
been expended upwards of L. 160,000 in the course of the last ten
years; so that it became necessary to borrow L. 10,000, agreeably to
the act, for the Isle of Man. In this state of things, the works at
the Isle of Man were delayed for a time; but, in the month of August
1816, they were commenced. The light-rooms were completed in the month
of December 1817; and, on the night of the 1st of February 1818, the
lights, both at the stations of the Point of Ayre, and Calf Island,
were exhibited to the public, agreeably to the following descriptions.

_Point of Ayre._

[Sidenote: ~1818.~]

[Sidenote: Description of the Point of Ayre Light-house.]

The only consideration to be taken into view in fixing the site of the
Point of Ayre Light-house, was the wasting appearance of the shores by
the effects of the sea at this part of the coast. Although, therefore,
it would have answered fully better, for the purposes of the light, to
have erected the tower close upon high-water-mark, yet the beach being
composed of a loose shifting gravel, it became a matter of prudence
rather to keep the buildings at some distance from it.

“The _Point of Ayre_ light-house is situate about 650 feet from the
sea, at high-water of spring tides, upon an extensive plain in the Main
Island of Man, in north latitude 54° 27´, and longitude 4° 20´ west of
London. The light-house bears, by compass, from the Mull of Galloway,
S. S. E. and is distant 22 miles; from Burrowhead, S. S. W. ½ W.
distant 16 miles; from St Bees, in Cumberland, W. by N. ¾ N. distant
29 miles; and from Rue Point, E. by S. distant 4 miles.

“The light is from oil, with a reflecting and revolving apparatus, and
is known to mariners as a “Revolving-coloured-light,” exhibiting from
the same Reflector-frame a light of the natural appearance, alternating
with one tinged red. These lights respectively attain their most
luminous effect, at the end of every two minutes. But, in the course
of each periodic revolution of the reflector-frame, both lights become
alternately fainter and more obscure, and, to a distant observer, are
totally eclipsed for a short time.

“The Light-room at the Point of Ayre is glazed all round, but the light
is hid from the mariner by the high land of Maughold Head towards the
south, and by Rue Point towards the west. Being elevated 106 feet above
the medium level of the sea, its most luminous side may be seen, like a
star of the first magnitude, at the distance of five leagues; but the
side tinged red, being somewhat obscured by the coloured shades, cannot
be seen at so great a distance.”

_Calf of Man._

[Sidenote: Description of Calf of Man Light.]

“There are two leading lights on the _Calf of Man_, situate on the
western side of the small island called the Calf, in north Lat. 54° 5´,
and Long. 4° 46´ west of London. These two light-houses are distant
from each other 560 feet. The higher light bears by compass from the
Mull of Galloway, S. SW. distant 37 miles; Peelhead, in the Isle of
Man, SW. distant 11 miles; Langness Point, W. by N. ½ N. distant
6 miles; and from the sunken rocks, called the Chickens, NE. ⅓ E.
distant about 1¼ mile.

“These lights are from oil, each light-room being furnished with
a distinct reflecting and revolving apparatus, by which they are
distinguished from the other lights on the coast, and rendered useful
as leading lights for passing the dangerous rocks called the Chickens.
The light-house towers, as before noticed, are built at the distance
of 560 feet apart, bearing from each other NE. ⅓ E. and SW. ¼ W.
Consequently, to an observer, in the direction of the Chickens, both
lights will appear in one, or be seen in the same line of direction,
and be known to mariners as “Double-revolving and Leading-lights
without colour.” These lights will respectively attain their most
luminous effect at the end of every two minutes; but, in the course
of each periodic revolution of the reflector frames, they alternately
become fainter and more obscure, and, to a distant observer, are
totally eclipsed for a short time. The two light-rooms at the Calf of
Man are glazed all round, but are hid from the mariner by the high
land of Peel Head towards the NE. and by Spanish Head in an eastern
direction; both lights, however, will be visible at about ¼ of a mile
from Langness Point. The lower light is elevated 305 feet above the
medium level of the sea, and the high light 396 feet, and they will be
seen like two stars of the first magnitude, at the distance of six or
seven leagues, in a favourable state of the atmosphere.”

[Sidenote: Extension of the Northern Lights to the Irish Sea.]

By the extension of the works of the Scotch Light-house Board to the
Isle of Man, the system of the Northern Light-houses may now be said,
in a general way, to extend over the whole of the coast of Scotland,
while the lights of Man are of immediate importance to the extensive
shipping of the coasts of England and Ireland, which bound the Irish
Sea. The trade of Dublin and Newry, &c. on the one side, and of
Liverpool, Lancaster, Whitehaven, and Workington, &c. on the other,
find the traffic with those ports much more safe since the erection of
these lights. Instead of shunning the Isle of Man, as formerly, owing
to the projecting points, sunken rocks, and sand-banks connected with
it, the mariner now steers boldly for this island, and takes shelter
under it in stormy weather.

_Sumburgh Head._

[Sidenote: Shetland Islands.]

According to the existing acts of Parliament relative to the Northern
Lights, no additional duty is exigible for any new erections of the
Board, as the only part of the coast not liable, prior to the extension
of the Scots Light-house Acts to the Isle of Man, was that of the
Solway Frith, now also subject to the duty. These acts, however,
empower the Commissioners to erect additional light-houses; and when
a sufficient number shall have been exhibited on the coast, and a
surplus fund provided for their maintenance, the duty on shipping is
ultimately to cease, and be no longer payable. Presuming, therefore,
upon the prosperity of the commerce of the country, for an increase of
funds, the Commissioners, though there were large sums to pay, both in
the form of interest for Government loans, and instalments for borrowed
money, taking into consideration the unprotected state of the Shetland
Islands, a part of their district still without the immediate benefit
of light-houses, had in view to erect an additional Light-house, as
soon as their funds would admit, on some of the most prominent points
of that group of Islands. The winters of 1817 and 1818 having been
very unfortunate to the shipping of the North Seas, and some very
distressing shipwrecks having occurred at Shetland, Mr William Erskine,
now Lord Kineddar, then Sheriff of the County of Orkney and Shetland,
and _ex officio_ one of the Commissioners, brought the subject again
under the notice of the Board; and, in the month of January 1819, it
was finally resolved that a Light-house should be erected on Sumburgh
Head in Shetland, the position of which will be seen by inspecting
Plate III. This work having been accordingly contracted for by Mr John
Reid, builder, of Peterhead, the first stone of the building was laid
on the 10th day of May 1820, and the light exhibited on the night of
the 15th day of January 1821, agreeably to the following specification
of the position of the house, and appearance of the light:

[Sidenote: Description of Sumburgh Head Light-house.]

“_Sumburgh Head_ Lighthouse is situate on the southern promontory of
the Mainland of the Shetland Islands, in north latitude 59° 52´, and
longitude 1° 15´ west of London. The Lighthouse, by compass, bears from
Hangcliff-head in Noss Island SW. by W. ¼ West, distant 21 miles.
From Fair Island NE. by E. ½ East, 26 miles. And from the Island of
Foula, SE. by S. ¼ South, distant 28 miles. In reference to these
bearings, the light is visible to the mariner from the southward,
between Noss and Foula Islands. This light is known to mariners as a
“Stationary light from oil with reflectors;” and being elevated 300
feet above the medium level of the sea, it is seen, like a star of the
first magnitude, at the distance of seven or eight leagues, and at
intermediate distances, according to the state of the atmosphere.”

[Sidenote: Built with double walls.]

From the very exposed situation of the promontory of Sumburgh Head,
and the great difficulty experienced in preserving the walls of
light-houses in a water-tight state, the writer followed a new plan
with the buildings at this station, in having made the whole of the
external walls double; the masonry of the outward wall being lined
with brick instead of lath-work, with a space of three inches left
between the double walls. This method was of course, more expensive in
the first instance, but will ultimately be much more economical, as
repairs, in these remote situations, are unavoidably very expensive.
This house is free of dampness, and has not admitted a single drop
of water through any part of the walls during the storms of two
successive winters, although the force of the wind is such, that the
light-keepers, when out of doors, are frequently obliged to move upon
their hands and knees, to prevent their being blown off the high land.
In such states of the weather, accompanied by rain, it is hardly
possible to prevent a single wall from admitting water.

_Carr Rock._

The Carr forms the seaward termination of a reef of sunken rocks which
appear at low-water, extending about a mile and three quarters from the
shore of Fifeness, on the northern side of the entrance of the Frith of
Forth. The very dangerous position of this rock, as a _turning point_,
in the navigation of the northern-bound shipping of the Frith, will
be seen from the chart of the coast, Plate IV. It seemed necessary,
therefore, for the safety of navigation, that the Carr Rock, in
connection with the several light-houses of the Bell Rock, Isle of May,
and Inchkeith, should be made as easily distinguishable to the mariner
as possible.

[Sidenote: Shipwrecks at the Carr Rock.]

The author, while occupied with the works at the Bell Rock, having been
often struck with the frequent and distressing occurrence of shipwreck
at the Carr Rock, was induced to collect information as to the probable
numbers of these wrecks; and he accordingly obtained, from persons who
had good access to know, the following list of wrecked vessels, for a
period of nine years prior to the commencement of the works at the Carr

 | _List of Shipwrecks off Fifeness, between the Years 1800 and 1809._  |
 |Unknown.          |   Simpson.     |   Sloop.     |    South Ferry.   |
 |Martha.           |   Clark.       |   Do.        |    Crail.         |
 |Leven.            |   Phillip.     |   Do.        |    Leven.         |
 |Neptune.          |   Finlay.      |   Do.        |    Dundee.        |
 |Unknown.          |   Brown.       |   Do.        |    Kincardine.    |
 |Aurora.           |   Leslie.      |   Brig.      |    Arbroath.      |
 |Lady Charlotte.   |   Duncan.      |   Sloop.     |    Aberdeen.      |
 |Two Brothers.     |   Carfrae.     |   Brig.      |    Dundee.        |
 |Expedition.       |   Nicol.       |   Sloop.     |    Kincardine.    |
 |Isabella.         |   Rintoul.     |   Do.        |    Perth.         |
 |Unknown.          |   Johnston.    |   Do.        |    Do.            |
 |Do.               |   Unknown.     |   Do.        |    John’s Haven.  |
 |New Deer.         |   Banks.       |   Do.        |    Kirkaldy.      |
 |Unknown.          |   Hamson.      |   Galliot.   |    Christiansand. |
 |Countess of Elgin.|   Gowans.      |   Sloop.     |    John’s Haven.  |
 |Unknown.          |   Small.       |   Do.        |    South Ferry.   |

[Sidenote: Floating-buoy moored off the Carr.]

By this melancholy list we find, that no fewer than sixteen vessels
have, in the course of nine years, been either lost or stranded on
the Carr Rocks, being almost at the rate of two wrecks in the year.
From this alarming state of things, it was thought advisable to bring
the subject under the notice of the Commissioners of the Northern
Light-houses, when the Board immediately ordered a Floating-buoy, of a
large size, to be moored off the Carr. The moorings for this buoy were
laid down, upon the 18th of September 1809, in 10 fathoms water, at the
distance of about 200 fathoms, in a north-eastern direction, from the
rock. But, owing to the heavy swell of sea, and the rocky sandstone
bottom on this part of the coast, it was found hardly possible to
prevent the buoy from occasionally drifting, even although it had been
attached to part of the great chain, made from bar-iron, measuring
1½ inch square, with which the Bell Rock floating light had been
moored for upwards of four years, without injury. The moorings of the
Carr Rock-buoy, from the continual rubbing upon the sandstone bottom,
were worn through with the friction in the course of ten months; and
during the four years which it rode here, though regularly examined and
replaced, in the proper season of the year, it was no less than five
times adrift, to the great inconveniency and hazard of shipping.

[Sidenote: A Beacon of masonry is resolved on.]

Under these circumstances, the Light-house Board was induced to
erect a Beacon of masonry upon the Carr Rock itself, instead of the
Floating-buoy. This work was commenced in the month of June, in the
year 1813, under the direction of the writer. The stone for this
building was taken from an excellent sandstone quarry on the property
of Lord Kellie, near the mouth of Pitmilly Burn: But, owing to the
smallness of the rock, the depth of water upon it, and the exposed
nature of the situation, the work was afterwards attended with very
great difficulty.

[Sidenote: Dimensions of the Carr Rock.]

The length of the Carr Rock, from south to north, measures 75 feet;
but its greatest breadth, as seen at low-water of spring-tides, being
only 23 feet, it was found to be impracticable to obtain a base for a
building of greater diameter than 18 feet. Such also was the fractured
and rugged state of the surface of this rock, that it became necessary
to excavate part of the foundation-pit of the building to the depth of
seven feet. The difficulties of this part of the work were also greatly
increased, owing to the foundation, on the eastern side, being under
the level of the lowest tides: so that it became necessary to construct
a coffer-dam. Part of this coffer-dam it was necessary to remove, and
carry ashore, after each tide’s work; and on the return of the workmen
at ebb-tide, a considerable time was unavoidably occupied in fixing the
moveable part of the coffer-dam, and in pumping the water out of the

[Sidenote: Difficulties of this work compared with those of the Bell

But, to enable the reader to form a comparative estimate of the
difficulties attending the early stages of the Carr Rock Beacon,
with those of the Bell Rock Light-house, it may be noticed, that
the period which the artificers were actually at work upon the Carr
Rock, as ascertained by the foreman during the first season, or the
summer of 1813, was 41 hours; and in 1814, after the experience of one
year’s work, these were only extended to 53 hours. Now, if we compare
1807 and 1808, the two first years’ work at the Bell Rock, we find
the artificers were respectively about 180 and 265 hours upon that
rock. The first two years at the Carr Rock were entirely occupied in
excavating and preparing the foundation, and in laying 10 stones, or
the half-course of masonry, which brings the foundation to a uniform
level, for the first entire course of the building, as shewn in Plate
II.; while, at the Bell Rock, in the two first seasons three courses
were erected, as represented in Plate IX., of a building situate 12
miles from the shore, and measuring 42 feet in diameter at the base,
besides the erection of a Beacon-house or Barrack for the workmen.
The establishment for the works at the Bell Rock was of course on a
much larger scale than that of the Carr Rock; but still the latter was
equally effective, and the same apparatus, artificers and seamen, were
employed at both.

[Sidenote: Third year’s work at the Carr Rock.]

During the third year’s work, or 1815, the second course of the masonry
was completed upon the Carr, and nine stones of the third course had
been got laid by the 3d of October, when a heavy ground-swell obliged
the artificers precipitately to leave the rock and take to their
boats. This swell was immediately accompanied by a gale of easterly
wind, and before the cement had taken bond or firmness, the surge of
the sea washed it out; when the oaken trenails, used as a temporary
fixture during the progress of the work, were wrenched off, and the
stone-joggles broken asunder. The whole of the nine blocks of stone
were thus swept off the rock and lost in deep water, though they had
been completely dove-tailed, and fitted on the same principles as the
masonry of the Bell Rock Light-house, where not a single stone was lost
during the whole progress of the work.

[Sidenote: Fourth year’s work.]

In the year 1816, or fourth season, the work was continued till the
month of November, when the building had attained the height of about
20 feet, or the 16th course, and still wanting 18 courses to complete
the masonry. In this state, it was left till the following season,
having been previously loaded with about four tons of lead, cast in
suitable pieces, and suspended within the void or central hollow of
the building. The operations of the fourth season had been also much
retarded by several untoward accidents. In particular, a heavy gale
overtook the workmen while they were laying the 7th course, which
obliged them to leave the rock before the precautionary measures could
be taken, for closing and completing the work immediately in hand; in
consequence of which, the stones on the eastern, or weather-side of
this course, were lifted off their bases, the oaken trenails broken,
and five of the blocks of stone swept away. At another period, the
Pozzolano mortar of the beds of two of the stones was washed out, and
so much injured, that the stones required to be lifted and relaid. The
works were this season intended to have been closed early in the month
of October, when another unlucky gale sprung up, just as the sixteenth
course had been laid, which lifted seven of the stones off their beds;
but they were fortunately held by the oaken trenails, and in this state
they remained for about three weeks, before a landing could possibly be
effected, to replace them.

[Sidenote: Fifth year’s work.]

In the month of June 1817, the fifth year’s work was begun, and the
remaining courses of the masonry were built; but in the month of
November, the coast was visited with a gale of wind at south-east,
accompanied with a heavy swell of sea, which, unfortunately, washed
down the upper part of the building, and reduced it to the height of
the fifth course, which formed part of the fourth year’s work.

[Sidenote: Beacon finished with cast-iron pillars and ball.]

Instead, therefore, of completing this Beacon with masonry, as had
been originally intended, and providing the Machine and large Bell,
which was to have measured 5 feet across the mouth, to be tolled by
the alternate rise and fall of the tide, it now became a matter of
consideration in what form the upper part of this design should be
finished. The Board ultimately determined on the erection of six
columns of cast-iron upon the remaining courses of masonry. These
columns are put together with spigot and facet joints, strongly
connected with collars and horizontal bars of malleable iron; the whole
terminating with a cast-iron ball, formed in ribs, elevated about 25
feet above the medium level of the sea. In this manner the Carr Rock
Beacon was at length completed, in the month of September 1821, after
six years work. The following is the notice and description of it given
to the public:

[Sidenote: Bearings and Description of the Carr Rock Beacon.]

  “The Carr Rock forms the seaward ledge of a range of sunken rocks,
  extending about two miles from Fifeness, on the eastern coast of
  Scotland, in North Latitude 56° 17’, and Longitude 2° 35´ west of
  London. By compass the Carr Rock Beacon bears SW. by W. from the Bell
  Rock, distant 11 miles; and from the Isle of May Light-house N.N.E.
  ¼ E., distant 6 miles.

  “The lower part of the beacon is a circular building of masonry, 18
  feet in diameter, forming a basement for six pillars of cast-iron,
  terminating in a hollow ball of that metal, which measures 3 feet
  across, and is elevated about 25 feet above the medium level of the

  “The erection of this beacon has been attended with much difficulty,
  having occupied six years in building; in the course of which the
  works sustained occasional damage. Mariners are therefore warned,
  when they _run_ for the Carr Rock Beacon, to do so with caution,
  both on account of its exposure to the breach of the sea, and its
  liability to receive damage from vessels under sail.”

[Sidenote: Application of the tide-machine described.]

The form and construction of the Carr Rock Beacon, both as originally
intended, and ultimately executed, will be better understood by
referring to Plate II., and to the annexed Description of the Plates.
The motion to be given to the bell-apparatus, or tide-machine, was
to be effected by admitting the sea water through a small aperture,
of three inches in diameter, perforated in the solid masonry,
communicating with a cylindrical chamber, in the centre of the
building, measuring two feet in diameter, in which a float or metallic
air-tank, was to rise and fall with the tide. The train of machinery
for this apparatus was calculated for a perpendicular rise of only six
feet, being equal to the lowest neap-tides on this coast. During the
period of flood-tide, the air-vessel, in its elevation, by the pressure
of the water, was to give motion to machinery for tolling the bell,
and winding up a weight; which last, in its descent, during ebb-tide,
was to continue the motion of the machine, until the flood-tide again
returned to perform the joint operation of tolling the bell and raising
the weight. A working model of a machine upon this principle having
been constructed, it was kept in motion for a period equal to several
months: this was effected by water run through a succession of tanks,
raised by a pump from the lower one to the higher, thus producing the
effect of flood and ebb tides. The time during which this apparatus was
in action, having been ascertained by an index, a constant attendance
upon the machine, during this protracted experiment, became unnecessary.

[Sidenote: General application of tide-machinery.]

The upper termination of the Beacon, in its present form, does not
admit of the application of the tide-machine with the bell-apparatus.
Experiments as applicable to this have, however, been tried with a
wind-instrument, to be sounded by the pressure of the sea water; but
it has not succeeded to the extent that seems necessary for a purpose
of this kind. We have indeed thought, that the application of pressure
as a power, communicated by the waters of the ocean, in mechanical
operations, might be carried to almost any extent, by simply providing
a chamber or dock, large enough for the reception of a float or vessel,
of dimensions equivalent to the force required. This description of
machinery is more particularly applicable in situations where the tides
have a great rise, as in the Solway Frith, Bristol Channel, and other
parts of the British seas; and at St Malo, on the coast of France.

[Sidenote: Leading Lights suggested.]

A Beacon of any form, unprovided with a light, must always be
considered an imperfect land-mark, and therefore various modes have
been contemplated, for more completely pointing out the position of
the Carr Rock. It has been proposed that phosphoric lights should be
exhibited from the top of the Building. This object, however, would be
more certainly accomplished, by the erection of leading lights, upon
the Island of May and Mainland of Fife. But these, with other plans
which have been under the writer’s consideration, would necessarily
be attended with a great additional expence, which, in the present
instance, it is not thought advisable to incur.

[Sidenote: Expence of the Carr Rock works.]

Owing to the necessarily slow progress of the operations at the Carr
Rock, the works were carried on partly in connection with the new
Light-house on the Isle of May, and with the assistance of the ordinary
shipping of the Light-house establishment. This renders it difficult to
give a distinct estimate of the expence of the Beacon; but in so far as
it can be collected, it may be stated, including all charges, at about
L. 5000.

_Stations on the Coast of Scotland, where Light-houses have been
suggested as still necessary._

Having now taken notice of the works of the Light-house Board, so far
as they have been completed, up to and including part of the year 1823.
We may farther advert to the Light-house on the Rhins of Ilay, founded
on the 23d of August last. The Northern Light-houses accordingly amount
to seventeen, erected at fourteen stations; and besides these, there
are the Beacons of North Ronaldsay and the Carr Rock. The position of
these establishments has not been chosen in regard to their respective
distances from each other, but agreeably to the commercial importance
and dangers connected with particular parts of the coast. Six of them,
for instance, are on the Friths of Forth and Clyde, at not more than
from 20 to 25 miles apart; while Kinnaird-Head, on the east coast,
is about 72 miles from the Bell Rock, and 70 miles from the Pentland
Skerries. The Light-house upon Island Glass, is about 130 miles
south-west from the Pentland Skerries, and 120 miles northward from the
Rhins of Ilay, being a stretch of 250 miles of coast, with only one
Light-house intervening. It must therefore be obvious, that fourteen
Light-house stations, which include two on the Isle of Man, are too
few for the Scottish coast, rendered formidable and dangerous, by a
vast number of islands and sunken rocks. The Commissioners have still,
accordingly, a wide field of operations before them, which they are
gradually occupying, as their funds will admit, and as the demands of
navigation and commercial intercourse seem to require. In the Appendix,
No. I. notice is taken of the most prominent points of land on the
coast, which have been brought under consideration as fit Stations for
additional Light-houses; and of these, one at Buchan-Ness, on the east
coast, has already been fixed on by the Board.

_Constitution of the Board, and System of Management._

[Sidenote: Constitution of the Board.]

The affairs of the Northern Light-houses are managed by the
Commissioners named in the different acts already noticed; but the
direction of the whole concerns of the establishment almost entirely
devolves upon the Commissioners resident in Edinburgh, viz. The
Lord Advocate and Solicitor-General, the Lord Provost, and Senior
Magistrate of that City, and the different Sheriffs, Commissioners _ex
officio_, who attend the Courts of Law. They hold frequent meetings,
and bestow their time and labour without any salary or remuneration
whatever. At their Meetings, all matters falling under the economy,
and connected with the arrangement of the Light-houses, are regulated;
full powers being conferred upon them as a Board to erect and maintain
such additional Light-houses as they shall deem necessary; so that
the system in this respect will at no very distant period be rendered

[Sidenote: Rate of Duties.]

By the Statutes, the general rate of duty upon British ships is 2d.
_per_ register ton for passing _one_ of, or _all_ the Scottish Lights;
together with certain local duties of ½d. per ton, connected with
the Lights of May and Inchkeith; and for vessels which only pass the
Lights on the Isle of Man, _one farthing_ per ton is the sole duty.
Foreign ships in all cases pay double rates. These duties are exigible
at all the Ports in the United Kingdom, and are remitted to the General
Collector at Edinburgh, at the end of three or six months, according to
the extent of the respective collections.

The application of the Funds, and disposal of the Surplus, are fixed by
the Acts; which also require, that an account of the moneys received
and expended by the Board, be annually presented to the Lords of the
Treasury, the Convention of Royal Burghs of Scotland, and that two
copies be sent to the Board of Customs at Edinburgh, to be laid before
both Houses of Parliament.

[Sidenote: Expence of Management, &c.]

The only permanent expence of management in the way of remuneration to
the Officers of the Board, are a salary of L. 500 to the Engineer; L.
380 to the Clerk, who is also Cashier, and a fee of 50 guineas to the
Auditor or Accountant. The revenue of the Board may be stated at about
L. 24,000 yearly; and as the department of the Engineer is unconnected
with the financial arrangements, this fund is, in fact, managed for
about L. 432, 10s. per annum.

As to the practical arrangement, the Engineer visits all the
Light-houses annually, and Reports to the Board upon the various works
and operations connected with the different Light-houses,--the conduct
of the light-keepers,--and also upon the stores and supplies required
for the ensuing year,--and these, when approven of, are authorised and
ordered by the Commissioners. All accounts for supplies are laid before
the Board, and paid twice in the year.

At each ordinary Light-house, a Principal and an Assistant Light-keeper
are appointed, whose salaries are respectively L. 45, and L. 35 _per
annum_, besides a piece of ground, not less than 10 acres, with fuel,
a suit of uniform clothes every three years, and some other small
perquisites. At the Bell Rock, there are four light-keepers, three of
whom are always at the Light-house, while one is, by rotation, on shore
at the establishment at Arbroath for the families of the light-keepers.
Their salaries are respectively L. 63, and L. 57, 15s., and for each of
the two ordinary Assistants L. 52, 10s. with provisions for themselves
while at the Rock, and apartments for their families ashore. The
light-keepers act under certain Instructions, and make Monthly Returns
to the Engineer’s office, copies of which will be found under Appendix,
No. I.

[Sidenote: Shipping of the Establishment.]

The shipping belonging to the Light-house service, besides attending
boats, for visiting Light-houses on insulated situations, consists
of a vessel of about 50 tons register, which is chiefly employed in
attending the Bell Rock, to supply the house with necessaries, and
relieve the light-keepers in their turn. For general service, another
vessel of 140 tons is kept, which carries oil and other stores for
the lights, together with fuel and necessaries, for the use of the
light-keepers, and artificers, with their implements and apparatus,
for making repairs at the different stations. The Engineer makes his
annual voyage of inspection in this vessel, which is provided with
cabins suitable for the reception of such of the Commissioners as may
occasionally visit the Light-houses.

[Sidenote: Voyages of Inspection.]

This duty has been undertaken by various members of the Board. In
the Summer of 1814 a Committee, consisting of Mr Hamilton, Sheriff
of Lanarkshire, Mr Erskine, Sheriff of Orkney, and Mr Duff, Sheriff
of Forfarshire, with the Engineer, made a voyage to inspect the
different Light-houses already erected, as also the most prominent of
the stations on the coast, suggested for the erection of Additional
Lights. They sailed from Leith in the Yacht, having for their companion
Mr Walter Scott, and having visited the Light-houses on the Isle of
May and Bell Rock, with the establishment at Arbroath, and that upon
Kinnaird-Head in Aberdeenshire, they next landed at Sumburgh-head in
Shetland, on which a Light-house has since been erected. Returning
southward, they visited the Light-houses on the Start Point of Sanday,
and the Pentland Skerries in Orkney. Then steering westward, they
landed at Cape Wrath, one of the projected Stations for a Light-house.
They next touched at the Light-house on Island-Glass, one of the Harris
Isles. From thence they proceeded and landed upon the Rock called
Skerryvore, lying off the Island of Tiree, and were satisfied of the
practicability of erecting a Light-house there. Having visited the
Light-house on Ennistrahul, on the coast of Donegal, one of the Irish
Lights, and inspected their own establishments on the Mull of Kantire
and Isle of Pladda, the Commissioners landed at Greenock, after a
voyage of nearly seven weeks.

In July 1815, Mr Hamilton and Mr Duff, accompanied by the writer,
sailed in the Yacht from the Troon for Liverpool, where they were
joined by Sir William Rae; and after having had a meeting with Mr
Gladstone on the subject of the Lights on _Man_, they sailed thither,
and fixed on the Stations for the Lights on that Island, and on the
Calf. They then proceeded to Dublin, and communicated with the Irish
Board for the affairs of Light-houses, regarding certain arrangements
for the advancement of the public service committed respectively to
their charge. Mr Crossthwaite, and other Members of the Irish Board,
accompanied them to the Light-house upon Houth: and having visited
the Tuskar Light-house, situate on an insulated rock off the coast of
Wexford, they bent their course to Holyhead, landed at the Light-house
on the South Stack; and on their return surveyed the operations at the
Light-house at Corsewall in Galloway then building, and having visited
Pladda, landed at Greenock.

In the Summer of 1818, Messrs Hamilton and Duff, with the writer,
sailed from Clyde, and inspected the Light-houses of Corsewall and
on the Isle and Calf of Man. The Yacht being then bound through the
British Channel, they availed themselves of the opportunity to visit
some of the English Light-houses, particularly the Smalls, off St
David’s Head, the Longships, off the Land’s End, the Edystone, the
Caskets off Alderney, Hurst Castle, Dungeness, and the North Foreland.
By these voyages, the Commissioners greatly enlarged their knowledge of
the important concerns entrusted to their charge. Some of them had thus
seen and examined all the Light-houses already established on the coast
of Scotland, and most of the Sites in contemplation for new erections
on the northern parts of the Island.





Drawn by Miss Stevenson.

Engraved by J. Horsburgh.

    Pharos loquitur
    Far in the bosom of the deep
    O’er these wild shelves my watch I keep
    A ruddy gem of changeful light
    Bound on the dusky brow of Night
    The Seaman bids my lustre hail
    And scorns to strike his timorous sail

_See page 530._]







In the Introduction, I have given an account of the institution of the
Board of Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses; of the progress
made in the erection of Light-houses on the coast of Scotland; the
probable future operations of the Board, and the general economy or
management of its affairs. I now come to treat in detail of the Bell
Rock Light-house, as the chief object of this work; and, in the present
chapter, I propose to give the general history, and a description of
this dangerous Rock.

_Name of the Rock._

[Sidenote: Name.]

[Sidenote: Origin of the Name.]

There is perhaps nothing in history more arbitrary, or difficult
to account for, than the origin of proper names, nor, in general,
any research more unsatisfactory, than a prolix inquiry into their
etymology. The charts of the nautical surveyor are the proper records
for the names of places upon the sea-coast; but such maps are
comparatively of late invention. The first sea-chart which we hear
of in England, was that brought from Spain in 1489, by Bartholomew
Columbus, to illustrate his brother’s theory of the discovery of
America; and the earliest, applicable to the coast of Scotland, is the
chart of the voyage of James V., from the Frith of Forth, by the Orkney
and Western Islands, to the Frith of Clyde and coast of Galloway, in
the year 1540. This map was published at Paris by Nicolay D’Arfiville,
Seigneur Du d’Aulphinois, &c. chief Cosmographer to the King of France,
in 1583; and afterwards in Edinburgh, in the year 1688, by John Adair,
F. R. S., Geographer for Scotland.

[Sidenote: Inch Cape.]

The French writer gives a hydrographical description of the coast of
Scotland, in relation to the Royal voyage, from Leith to the Solway
Frith, noticing the distances of places, the tides, and the rocks and
sand-banks, or “_dangers_,” as they are more generally termed, which
it was necessary to avoid. In adverting to the course from Leith by
the east coast to Duncansby-Head, in Caithness, he observes, “Entre
Finismes [Fifeness] et la pointe nommé Redde, xii mille à l’est sud-est
du costé de la dicte pointe Redde, gist un danger appelé _Inchkope_.”
This is unquestionably the Bell Rock, the inch or island of the _Cape_,
and with a reference to the Redhead, to the north of Aberbrothock,
the highest and most remarkable point on that coast. In Adair’s
collection of nautical charts, and descriptive account of the eastern
coast of Scotland, published in 1703, the Bell Rock is indifferently
termed _Scape_ and _Cape_; and the fishermen on the shores of Angus
uniformly call it the _Cape Rock_. In some old charts, particularly
by the Dutch, whose name for a headland is _kappe_, it is also called
_skape_ and _scaup_. It does not, however, seem that any inference
can be drawn from these various appellations; and, although it were
to be conjectured, that the Inch Cape was, at a very remote period,
permanently above water, and in all respects an island, the most
rational hypothesis would still remain, and be indeed confirmed, that
this name was given it on account of the relation it bore, especially
in situation, to the cape of Redhead.

[Sidenote: Bell Rock.]

It is perhaps more difficult to assign the true origin for the modern
term of _Bell Rock_, by which this dangerous reef is now universally
known. There is a tradition, that an Abbot of Aberbrothock directed a
bell to be erected on the Rock, so connected with a floating apparatus,
that the winds and sea acted upon it, and tolled the bell, thus
giving warning to the mariner of his approaching danger. Upon similar
authority, the bell, it is said, was afterwards carried off by pirates,
and the humane intentions of the Abbot thus frustrated. This story has,
by a modern poet, been made the subject of the ballad of “Sir Ralf the
Rover,” which, for the reader’s amusement, is inserted in the Appendix,
No. II.

[Sidenote: Erection of a Bell.]

Of the erection of the Bell, and of the machinery by which it was rung,
if such ever existed, it would have been interesting to have had
some authentic evidence. But, though a search has been made in the
chartularies of the Abbey of Aberbrothock, preserved in the Advocates’
Library, and containing a variety of grants and other deeds, from the
middle of the 13th to the end of the 15th century, no trace is to be
found of the Bell Rock, or any thing connected with it. The erection
of the bell is not, however, an improbable conjecture; and we can
more readily suppose that an attempt of that kind was made, than that
it had been intentionally removed, which in no measure accords with
the respect and veneration entertained by seamen of all classes for
land-marks; more especially, as there seems to be no difficulty in
accounting for the disappearance of such an apparatus unprotected,
as it must have been, from the raging element of the sea. It is not
therefore unlikely, that the popular appellation by which this Rock
has more recently been known, may owe its origin to the tradition of
the Abbot’s humanity and public spirit; and when we consider that the
churchmen of those days were well acquainted with the history of the
celebrated Pharos of Alexandria, and may have heard of the fire-towers
and sea-marks, which Mr Bryant, in his Mythology, conjectures existed
in very remote times, it is natural to suppose, that these learned
persons had, at a pretty early period, turned their attention to the
subject, and had attempted, in the mode which has been figured, to
point out and guard against the danger.

Amidst these speculations, it must not, however, be overlooked, that
this Rock may have acquired its present name from its shape or figure;
for at the commencement of the author’s operations, he remarked, that
the site of the light-house, at some distance, had much the appearance
of a large bell; and although this part was not more than four feet
above the general level of the Rock, yet by supposing it to have
been the nucleus of a larger mass, in the central part of the Rock,
gradually wasted away by the washing of the sea, it may at a former
period, from that resemblance, have obtained the appellation it now

_Situation and Dimensions._

[Sidenote: Situation.]

The Bell Rock may be described as a most dangerous sunken reef, situate
on the northern side of the entrance of the great estuary or arm of
the sea called the Frith of Forth; and as such directly affecting the
safety of all vessels entering the Frith of Tay. Its position, as will
be seen from the Charts, Nos. 3. and 4., which accompany this work, is
in west longitude from Greenwich 2° 22´, and in north latitude 56°
29´. From St Abb’s Head in Berwickshire, it bears north by east per
compass, (variation 27° 20´ west in the year 1819), and is distant
about 30 miles; from the Island of May north-east 17 miles; and from
the promontory or cape called the Redhead, in Forfarshire, it bears
south-west, and is distant 14 miles. But in easterly directions no land
intervenes between the Bell Rock and the coasts of Norway, Denmark,
Germany and Holland.

[Sidenote: Dimensions.]

The dimensions of the north-eastern or higher compartment of the
Rock where the light-house is built, are about 427 feet in length,
and 230 feet in breadth. Besides these dimensions, the south-western
reef extends about 1000 feet from the main rock. The greatest length,
therefore, of the Bell Rock, which may be said to be dangerous to
shipping, is about 1427 feet, and its greatest breadth is about 300
feet; but the outline or margin of the Rock is quite irregular, as will
be seen from the Plates marked Nos. 5. and 6.

_Natural History._

[Sidenote: Mineralogy.]

The Bell Rock consists of sandstone of a reddish colour, which in
some places contains whitish and greenish spots of circular and oval
forms, irregularly interspersed through the rock. It is of a fine
granular texture, containing minute specks of mica. It is very hard,
and, in the language of the artificer, is tough, and rather difficult
to work; and in some parts it is found to rise in masses having a
conchoidal fracture. Its angle of inclination with the horizon is
about 15 degrees, dipping towards the south-east. The strata are thick
and unequal, strongly cemented together, and running in the direction
of north-east and south-west. The surface of the Rock is rugged, and
full of cavities, so that walking upon it becomes rather difficult. A
longitudinal section of the Bell Rock, taken in a north-easterly and
south-westerly direction, may be described as consisting of a higher
and a lower level. The cross section, taken in a south-easterly and
north-westerly direction, exhibits the abrupt and pointed terminations
of the strata, though it appears level when seen from a distance.

[Sidenote: Wasting effects of the Sea.]

[Sidenote: Natural History.]

It would be a speculation highly interesting to the geologist, to
inquire into the probable early history of the Bell Rock, and the
changes produced on it by the wasting effects of the waters of the
ocean. When we consider the similarity of the red sandstone of this
rock with the Redhead of Forfarshire, and opposite shores of Berwick in
the neighbourhood of Dunglass, and take into view that there is a ridge
or shallower part of the bottom, which extends a considerable way from
the Bell Rock in the direction of these shores, we may infer, that the
Rock itself had extended at one time much further. We are also enabled
to trace the same formation, penetrating to the northward through
Ross-shire, and quite across the kingdom, in a southern direction,
to Cumberland. At a period indefinitely remote in the history of
the globe, we may therefore imagine that one continuous bed of red
sandstone had stretched across the Frith, forming a barrier by which
the great collection of waters of the Forth and Tay have been pent up.

[Sidenote: Proofs of the Sea having occupied a higher level.]

In support of this opinion, we have the most unequivocal proofs of the
waters of those friths having formerly occupied a much higher level.
Of these we may notice the general appearance of their water-worn
shores, and a bed of oyster-shells near Borrowstounness, which has been
traced to the extent of three miles in length, and about two fathoms
in thickness, lying in their natural state, but now upwards of 35 feet
above the present level of the sea. Under these circumstances, and
many others which might be adduced, it is not improbable that the Bell
Rock has at one time been connected with the opposite coasts; and when
we consider the general waste of the land, which is apparent in all
directions from the impulse of the sea, it may at least be concluded,
that at no very remote period, the Rock has been of much greater
superficial extent, and above the level of the highest tides. Nor need
we be surprised that such changes upon this remote and insulated spot
should have been lost sight of, owing to their gradual and almost
imperceptible effects, compared with the short period of the life of
man, and in absence of all testimony excepting that which is oral.

[Sidenote: Plants.]

With regard to the marine Plants which grow upon the Bell Rock, we
may observe that the lower parts of it are covered with the stronger
or larger sorts, as the great tangle, _Fucus digitatus_, the roots of
which rarely appear above the water, while it is seen at the depth of
several fathoms, growing with the greatest luxuriance, and has often
been observed by the author from a boat in fine weather, as a means
for ascertaining, by the direction of the leaf, the changes of the
currents of the tide at the bottom. The Badderlock, or Henware, _Fucus
esculentus_, is found only on the north-eastern and south-eastern
extremities of the Rock, growing at low water-mark of spring-tides,
and seems to prefer the most rapid currents of the sea, and places
where the heaviest breach takes place. In such situations it grows
in great abundance at the Bell Rock, where it has been measured of
the length of eighteen feet, and of proportionally increased breadth.
Perhaps some of these plants are of considerable age; but at the
works of the Carr Rock Beacon, off Fifeness, it was found that the
growth of the badderlock was so very rapid, that the plant attained to
the length of seven feet upon the new building, in the course of the
winter and spring months. The higher parts of the Bell Rock abound with
the smaller fuci, as _Fucus mamillosus_, and _F. palmatus_, or common
dulse. _F. lycopodiodes_, _alatus_, and _coccineus_, are found on the
older stalks of the great tangle, and _F. subfuscus_ and _confervoides_
occupy the smaller pools. In some places, the rocks are rendered
slippery with _Ulva compressa_ and _umbilicalis_; and the higher parts
of the Rock, and the basement or lower courses of the light-house, are
so covered with _Conferva rupestris_, as to produce the appearance of a
sward of grass.

[Sidenote: Animals.]

Of the feathered tribe of animals at the Bell Rock, we notice the
shag, cormorant, and herring-gull, which sometimes rest upon the Rock
when in search of codlings and other small fishes. It also formed the
resting-place of numerous seals at the commencement of the operations
of the Light-house, but these amphibious animals, as well as the
birds, have now almost entirely left it. The common crab and lobster
are sometimes found here in the crevices of the rock. The _Lepas
balanoides_, or acorn-shell, the common limpet, mussels of a small
size, and the white _buckey_ or _Buccinum lapillus_, abound on the
rock. The _Actinia crassicornis_, _Asterias glacialis_ and _oculata_,
are common. A minute crustaceous insect, called, by Dr Leach, _Limnoria
terebrans_ (_Lin. Trans_, vol. XI. p. 371.), appeared in great numbers
in the submersed wood work of the temporary erections on the Rock.

[Sidenote: Insect destructive to Timber.]

So destructive to timber is this small insect, that the Norway logs,
laid down to support the temporary railways in 1807, when lifted in
1811, were found to have been reduced by its ravages from 10 inches
square to 7 inches, or at the rate of about an inch in the year. The
author having had occasion afterwards to examine the timber-bridge of
Montrose, found the attacks of this insect upon the wooden piers to be
so alarming as to endanger that fabric; and after many trials for the
preservation of timber in such situations, the Trustees were ultimately
induced to cover the upright beams with sheet-copper. Upon another
occasion, when the author was called to inspect the Crinan Canal, he
found the gates of the sea-locks so destroyed, chiefly by this little
animal, that the locks lost seven feet of their depth of water in
the course of the night. It is further remarked, that the deserted
cavities, formed by the perforations of the Limnoria, frequently
become the residence of larger marine insects, belonging to the Linnæan
genus Oniscus.

[Sidenote: Experiments with pieces of timber trenailed to the Rock.]

In the year 1814, with a view to experiment on the effects of these
destructive vermes, I fixed down specimens of teak-wood, oak, black
birch, Memel and Norway fir timber, on the Bell Rock. The only specimen
which remained imperforate till 1820, was the teak-wood. The rest were
almost entirely destroyed in the course of two or three years. This
may be regarded as a matter of some importance, in a national point of
view, in directing the employment of teak-wood for the sea-lock gates
of canals and for ship-timbers. From the excellency of the situation
of the Bell Rock for such experiments, I have caused another set of
timbers to be trenailed to the rock, in a situation where, like the
former, they are occasionally uncovered by the water. These last
pieces of timber were laid down in the month of October 1821. They are
eighteen in number, each measuring 5 inches square, and 30 inches in
length; and are of the following kinds, viz. British and American oaks
and firs, Memel fir, Scotch elm, beech, sycamore, larch, teak-wood,
mahogany, bullet-tree, locust-wood, and blue gum-wood from Van Dieman’s

[Sidenote: Attempt to plant Muscles on the Rock.]

When the workmen first landed upon the Bell Rock, limpets of a very
large size were common, but were soon picked up for bait. As the
limpets disappeared, we endeavoured to plant a colony of muscles, from
beds at the mouth of the river Eden, of a larger kind than those which
seem to be natural to the rock. These larger muscles were likely to
have been useful to the workmen, and might have been especially so to
the light-keepers, the future inhabitants of the rock, to whom that
delicate fish would have afforded a fresh meal, as well as a better
bait than the limpet; but the muscles were soon observed to open and
die in great numbers. For some time this was ascribed to the effects
of the violent surge of the sea, but the _Buccinum lapillus_ having
greatly increased, it was ascertained that it had proved a successful
enemy to the muscle. The _buccinum_ being furnished with a proboscis
capable of boring, was observed to perforate a small hole in the shell,
and thus to suck out the finer parts of the body of the muscle; the
valves of course opened, and the remainder of the fish was washed away
by the sea. The perforated hole is generally upon the thinnest part of
the shell, and is perfectly circular, of a _champhered_ form, being
wider towards the outward side, and so perfectly smooth and regular,
as to have all the appearance of the most beautiful work of an expert
artist. It became a matter extremely desirable to preserve the muscle,
and it seemed practicable to extirpate the _buccinum_. But after we had
picked up and destroyed many barrels of them, their extirpation was at
length given up as a hopeless task. The muscles were thus abandoned
as their prey: and in the course of the third year’s operations, so
successful had the ravages of the _buccinum_ been, that not a single
muscle of a large size was to be found upon the rock; and even the
small kind which breed there, are now chiefly confined to the extreme
points of the rock, where it would seem their enemy cannot so easily
follow them.

[Sidenote: Habits of Fishes.]

In speaking of the habits of fishes, it deserves notice that they have
their particular grounds and shores which they frequent; for while the
vessels attending the works at the Bell Rock were stationed there,
different kinds of fish were caught as the depth and bottom varied.
About high-water, and especially during ebb-tide, when the sea is
smooth on the rock, the _Podley_ (chiefly the fry of the coal-fish,
but including also the young of the _Gadus virens_) is so numerous,
as almost entirely to cover it from view. Near the rock, the small
red cod is often found in abundance: at some distance, as the bottom,
which is covered with marine plants near the rock, alters to coral,
gravel, shell sand, fine sand and mud, all of which occur in a range
of depths from 4 to 23 fathoms towards the north, different kinds of
fish are found; first, the codling, which ceases to be wholly red,
but becomes only speckled with reddish spots; then, upon the finer or
mud grounds in the track of the tides of the Frith of Tay, whiting,
haddock, flounder, and occasionally the sole. On the southern side of
the rock, where the water deepens to 35 fathoms, the large white cod,
in company with ling, conger-eel, halibut, skate, thornback, plaise,
turbot, wolf-fish and large coal-fish are found. The dog-fish appears
to be very general, and seems to prey chiefly upon the haddock and cod.
The mackerel and gurnard are found together near the surface, and do
not seem to be confined to particular grounds, but occur wherever the
water is of a considerable depth. Herrings are found in the bays of the
opposite shores in great abundance at the fishing season, when they
are understood to be migrating towards the south. It has often been
observed, in the course of the Bell Rock operations, that, during the
cold weather of spring and autumn, and even at all seasons, in stormy
weather, when the sea is much agitated by wind, the fishes disappear
entirely from the vicinity of the rock, probably retreating into much
deeper water, from which they do not seem to return, until a change of
weather has taken place; so much was this attended to by the seamen
employed on this service, that they frequently prognosticated and
judged of the weather from this habit of the fishes, as well as from
the appearances of the sky.

_Depth of Water._

[Sidenote: Depth of Water.]

[Sidenote: Depth of Water upon the Bell Rock.]

At the time of high-water of spring-tides, the south-western reef is
about 16 feet, or nearly the whole rise of the tide, under the surface
of the water; while the part of the rock on which the light-house is
built, is about 12 feet below high water-mark of spring-tides: At
low-water of neap-tides, hardly any part of the rock is visible: But at
low-water of spring-tides, the _general level_ of the north-eastern end
where the light-house is built, is about four feet perpendicular above
the level of the sea, though particular points measure six or even
seven feet in height above the low-water mark of spring-tides.

[Sidenote: Depth at the distance of 100 yards, and upwards from it.]

At the distance of about 100 yards from the rock in all directions,
excepting on the south-western reef, there is a depth of water varying
from two to three fathoms at low water of spring tides. On the
north-west side, or in the direction of the shores of Forfar and Fife,
the greatest depth is 23 fathoms; but on the south-eastern or seaward
side, in the direction of the _dip_ or inclination of the strata, the
water deepens more suddenly to 35 fathoms; in the same direction from
the rock, however, the soundings again become less, being only 22
fathoms upon Mars Bank, distant about 33 miles; this bank appears to be
a deposition formed by the joint operation of the waters of the Friths
of Forth and Tay, influenced by the great tidal wave of the German
Ocean. It may here be noticed as a fact connected with the depth of the
German Ocean, that at Queensferry passage, in the Frith of Forth, the
depth of the water is about 35 fathoms, while the greatest depth of the
sea across to Denmark, does not exceed 45 fathoms. The depths of the
German Ocean will be seen, by inspecting Chart No. 3., where sectional
lines are delineated between various points of Great Britain and the
opposite Continent, on which the reader will see the relative depths
marked by shaded lines, in a new and it is hoped a perspicuous manner.

_Current of the Tides._

[Sidenote: Currents of the Tide.]

[Sidenote: Tides at the Bell Rock.]

The tides at the Bell Rock, are observed to follow the same laws as
on the opposite shores of the Frith of Forth. The currents along the
coast take their direction from the figure of the land, and, in their
course, they are therefore occasionally deflected from, and inclined
towards it. At the Bell Rock the flood-tide sets south-west, and the
ebb-tide north-east, being nearly in the direction of the shores of
Forfar and Kincardine. The velocity of the water in spring-tides, or
when the sun and moon are in conjunction, and in opposition, is about
three miles _per_ hour, but in neap-tides, or at the quadratures of the
moon, the current is only at the rate of about one mile _per_ hour.
On the days of new and full moon it is high-water _upon_ the Bell
Rock at half past one o’clock, being about the same periodic time as
at the harbour of Arbroath, or nearest point of the mainland. In the
ordinary state of the weather, the perpendicular rise and fall of the
sea at the Bell Rock, in spring-tides, is 15 feet, and in neap-tides,
8 feet; but so much depends upon the direction of a prevailing tract
of winds, that the tides are often found to vary from 1 to 3 feet
above and below these numbers. This irregularity in the tides of the
German Ocean and its subsidiary friths or inland seas will be easily
accounted for, by considering the effect of westerly winds passing
for a length of time over the Atlantic, which must naturally force an
undue quantity of water from thence into the entrance of the North Sea,
between the coasts of Scotland and Norway; while the Strait of Dover,
to the southward, from the same cause, is gorged by the surplus waters
of the British Channel flowing in an opposite direction, and checking
the tide of the German Ocean. When the winds blow from southerly and
easterly directions, the reverse of this happens, and the waters are
then proportionally low.

[Sidenote: In and Off shore Currents.]

A curious anomaly connected with the flowing and ebbing of the sea, in
the early part of each tide, is observable in the contrary currents
which take place along the shore, and at a distance from it. For
example, the flood-tide begins to flow in many situations two or even
three hours sooner on the shore than at the distance of from one
mile to four miles in the offing. The same thing also happens with
regard to the ebb-tide, which begins to fall and run in a contrary
direction to the flood-tide, two or three hours sooner on the shore
than at a distance. These effects are very different from the state of
things three or four leagues from the land, or in the open sea, where
the lateral motion of the tide-waters is scarcely sensible. That an
extensive tract of coast should produce changes on the current of the
tides, is perhaps what we should expect; but it is somewhat curious
to find the same appearances connected with small islets, and, as in
the case of the Bell Rock, even with an insulated reef, situate at the
distance of 12 miles from the land, and sunk to the depth of from 2 to
3 fathoms under the surface of high-water. So strikingly observable is
this, that the tide begins to ebb about two hours sooner on the Bell
Rock than at the short distance of one mile from it. In the course of
the light-house operations this was rendered sufficiently obvious, by
the swinging round of the several vessels at their moorings according
to the flood and ebb tides. For example, the Floating Light-ship was
moored about three miles in a north-west direction from the Bell
Rock, and the moorings of the Tender and two Stone Lighters, were
respectively laid down at the distance of ¾ and ½ mile from it, as
will be seen from Plate V. Now, these vessels were all found to swing
to the tide at periods proportional to their distance from the rock.
Although it may, therefore, seem strange, that this comparatively small
object should affect the tides in its vicinity in a manner similar to
the shores of an extensive coast; yet, as the rock shelves outwards,
with an extensive base, especially on the northern side, it must impede
the under current of the tide, and indeed forcibly proves the existence
of such under currents.

[Sidenote: Not accounted for by Writers on the subject.]

To account for these in and off shore tides, or central and marginal
streams, would be interesting. But to what cause shall we ascribe
them? Sir Isaac Newton, and the other eminent philosophers who have
followed that great man in considering the theory of the tides, confine
their attention chiefly to an explanation of the influences of the
sun and moon, and the laws of gravitation, in affecting the waters
of the ocean, leaving it to the result of experience and observation
to account for such anomalies as those to which we now allude. It is
noticed by Adair, Mackenzie, and other nautical surveyors, that the
tides run longer upon the shore than in the offing, and the advantage
of working a ship with _in and off shore tides_, is familiar to every
mariner. The existence of these opposite currents was also known to the
author, prior to the commencement of the Bell Rock works, but they had
not struck him so forcibly till that period. For here, even after the
flood-tide had overflowed the rock, and put a stop to the operations,
the boats in carrying the artificers on board of the Tender, had still
to row against the current of a strong ebb-tide.

[Sidenote: Currents along Shore considered as Eddy-tides.]

It would be foreign to this work to enter into the theory of the tides
generally; all, therefore, that is here proposed, is to endeavour to
account for these in and off shore currents. In doing this, however,
it will be necessary to observe, that the _great wave_ or “theoretical
tide,” as it has been termed by the late eminent Professor Robison,
is produced by the united attraction of the sun and moon, which,
between the Tropics, has been calculated by philosophers to raise
the water from 8 to 14 feet perpendicularly. It is observable, that
the attractions of these heavenly bodies elevate the parts of the
ocean to which they are vertical, without having any direct tendency
to progressive or lateral motion. The currents along our coasts,
may therefore be considered merely as Eddy-tides, occasioned by the
interposition of the land, which obstructs the undulating motion
incident to the rise or fall of a fluid. In this manner the land
may be said to displace a portion of the tidal waters which have
been elevated above the medium level of the sea; and were it not for
such obstruction, the great waves of the tide might be supposed to
undulate indefinitely over the expanse of the ocean. To compare small
things with great, these effects may be conceived as in some degree
exemplified, by the disturbing effect of a vessel passing along a
navigable canal, or the undulations which are observable in the _wake_
of a ship or wheels of a steam-boat in motion on a smooth sea.

[Sidenote: Progress of the Great Waves of the Tides.]

The great wave which supplies the _British tides_, appears to be
propagated between the coast of Labrador and Greenland, on the one
hand, and the European shores on the other; and this great wave seems
to be divided into two lesser waves. One of these flows between Ireland
and the coast of France, into the British and St George’s Channels;
while the other enters by the North Sea into the German Ocean; and in
its course from north to south, supplies all the friths, rivers, and
bays connected with it, invariably in the form of _In and Off shore
tides_, which are every where observable along the margin of this great
basin. This northern wave is found to occupy about 12 hours in flowing
southward from the 58th to the 52d degree of latitude, or from the
Orkney Islands to the numerous Sand-banks which pervade and encumber
the apex of the German Ocean, where the currents become extremely
desultory and irregular. The coast of the British Isles, accordingly,
may be said to, displace a portion of this northern wave, and thus to
produce the irregularities which we are endeavouring to account for.

[Sidenote: Progressive periods of High-Water in the Frith of Forth.]

At present, we shall confine our attention to the tides of the Frith
of Forth. Here, as on other parts of the coast, the tidal waters have
a tendency to flow towards the shores and higher parts of the Forth,
till the instant of high-water upon the shore, when the tide begins
to ebb, and run in a contrary direction. A central stream, however,
continues to run with unabated force, as flood-tide, during two or even
three hours longer, as before noticed, according to the situation and
local circumstances of the coast. It appears, from a comparison of the
several periods of high-water on the shores of the Frith of Forth, as
nearly as some of them could be ascertained, that the precise time of
high-water becomes later and later in the same tide, as we proceed
westward; at the Bell Rock, for example, it is high-water on the days
of new and full moon, as before noticed, at ½ past 1 o’clock; at the
Carr Rock, at ¾ past 1; at Elie, still further up the Frith, at 2;
Kinghornness, at ¼ past 2; Queensferry, at ¾ past 2; and at Alloa,
at ¾ past 3 o’clock. The off-shore stream of the tide continues to
flow proportionally longer till it has supplied the higher parts of
this estuary with its portion of tidal waters; and in like manner, the
central stream of ebb-tide continues its course till these waters are
again run off.

[Sidenote: Currents at the Mouth of the Dee and other Rivers.]

In many points, it is found, that the operation of the tidal waters
of extensive arms of the sea, bears a close resemblance to what is
observable upon the small scale in the currents of rivers, especially
at their junction with the ocean. An interesting example of this occurs
on the river Dee, which falls rapidly into the harbour of Aberdeen.
Here the author having occasion to make some observations on the tides
in the summer of 1812, stationed several assistants at low-water mark,
between the entrance of the harbour and the bridge, about two miles up
the river. The waters of the Dee, even at the entrance of the harbour,
have almost a constant current seaward, notwithstanding the opposite
direction of the flood-tide of the Ocean. On the occasion alluded
to, one of his assistants, a very intelligent shipmaster, continued
at his post while the water flowed up to his middle; and, when
accosted about his situation, he significantly observed, “That it was
rather extraordinary, as the stream had never ceased to indicate the
continuance of an ebb-tide, while the water was still rising upon his

[Sidenote: Water salt at bottom and fresh at top.]

In connection with these observations on the tides, some experiments
were also made with an instrument adapted for lifting water from
considerable depths, without the possibility of its intermingling
with the surface water. By means of this instrument, the water at the
bottom of the Dee, at Aberdeen, was found to be salt, while that at
the surface was quite fresh. These streams of fresh and salt water run
in distinct currents, and in contrary directions, the salt water, from
its greater specific gravity, flowing at the bottom of the river, and
fluctuating with the level of the ocean, while the fresh water is
actually lifted upwards, and continues all the while to flow seaward
on the surface of the salt water. Towards the point of high-water,
however, the flood-tide gains strength on the margin of the basin of
the harbour, where the water becomes salt, and forms an eddy-tide
in a contrary direction to the central stream, which is observed
still to run toward the sea. Having made similar observations on the
waters of the Thames, the Garonne, and other rivers, with nearly the
same results, after making allowance for the more level state of the
country, in the track of these great streams,--it is concluded, that
the currents at the embouchure of rivers bear a strong resemblance to
the operation of the in and off shore tides of the ocean.

[Sidenote: Phenomena of in and off shore Tides accounted for.]

We further observe, that the great wave of the German Ocean produces
its tides in regular succession, and at stated periods, as it moves
from north to south; but the tides of the more inland seas are subject
to many irregularities, both in their periodic times, and in the
direction of their currents. Let us suppose, then, that we have arrived
at the instant of high-water on the shores at the entrance of the Frith
of Forth, and that the tidal waters are then moving in a body, and
with a certain pressure, towards the higher parts of the Frith, and
even affecting the river above the bridge of Stirling. We find, that
at the entrance of this estuary, on the days of new and full moon, it
is high-water at a quarter past one o’clock; but at Alloa, situate 70
miles above the Bell Rock, it is not high-water till about two hours
and a half later. The in-shore tidal waters having to encounter the
shelving shores, islands, sunken rocks, and projecting points of land,
which lie in their course up the Frith, acquire lateral as well as
perpendicular motion, and being thus checked in their progress, are
brought sooner to a maximum state than the off-shore stream, which
flows in deeper water, and comparatively free of obstruction, till it
reaches its ultimate limits; though it gradually diminishes in breadth,
till the stream of the _new tide_ gaining strength becomes general;
and the central current, formerly running in a contrary direction, at
length disappears, and takes the course of the new tide.

We would, therefore, be understood to ascribe this anomaly in the
flowing and ebbing of the sea, to the obstruction which the current of
its waters meets not only at the surface or margin, but at the bottom,
which, from the variety of the soundings of the depths, appears to
be as various as the face of the land. A striking proof of this is
afforded at the Bell Rock: on the northern side of which there are 11
fathoms, at the distance of about three quarters of a mile; while, on
the southern side, and at a similar distance, the water deepens to 35
fathoms; so that a perpendicular section of this rock under water forms
a precipitous declivity, such as we are quite accustomed to see on the
land. Now, if we apply this irregular conformation of the bottom of
the sea, to the production of the in and off shore tides, and conceive
that the tidal currents extend their motion to the bottom, it must
be evident, that this obstruction presented to the stream will bring
the tides to a maximum state sooner on the northern side of the rock,
where the water is so much shallower, than on the southern side. This
is also agreeable to observation; for, the tides _upon the Bell Rock_
begin to flow and ebb one hour sooner than at the distance of about
three quarters of a mile from it on the northern side, and about two
hours and a half sooner than at the same distance on the southern
side. The marginal current is thus checked by the shallowness of the
water, and the projecting points of land; while the central stream,
flowing comparatively without obstruction, continues to run till the
most inland creeks are supplied with tidal water; and _vice versâ_, it
continues its stream outwards, till these waters are again run off.

[Sidenote: Progressive times of high-water.]

The progressive times of high-water, at intermediate points between the
Bell Rock and the port of Alloa in the Frith of Forth, appear to follow
the same general law, as the great wave of the German Ocean in its
progress from the Orkneys southward. These observations on the tides of
the Forth apply equally to the Frith and River of Tay, and indeed to
all the tributary streams and arms of the sea which communicate with
the German Ocean, according to their local situations and magnitudes.

[Sidenote: Tides of the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas.]

If due allowance be made for the peculiar situation and circumstances
of the Mediterranean and Baltic seas, it is apprehended, from all
that we have been able to learn of the operation of the currents at
the Strait of Gibraltar, and Sound of the Cattigate, that these seas
are supplied and discharged by in and off shore tides or currents,
under certain modifications, and making due allowance for local
circumstances, in the same manner as on all other parts of the coast.

I have been thus particular relative to the in-shore and off-shore
tides, because they appear in a very puzzling form to the mariner,
while writers on the theory of the tides are almost silent on this



_Dangerous Position of the Bell Rock._

[Sidenote: Dangerous Position of the Bell Rock.]

Whatever may have been the early state of the Inch Cape or Bell Rock,
as an Island, its present character is strictly that of a sunken rock;
and, as such, its relative situation on the eastern shores of Great
Britain has long rendered it one of the chief impediments to the
free navigation of that coast. It is almost unnecessary to remark,
that there are only three great inlets or estuaries upon this coast,
to which the mariner steers, when overtaken by easterly storms in
the North Sea or German Ocean. These are the Humber, and the Friths
of Forth and Moray; of which the Frith of Forth is the principal
rendezvous. The mouth of the River Thames, excepting in certain narrow
and intricate channels, has not a sufficient depth of water, and is
so much encumbered with sand-banks, that no vessel can enter it under
night, or approach it in bad weather. On the coast and shores in the
neighbourhood of the Humber, the land is flat, and defective in those
bold and characteristic features which are essential to the situation
of an anchorage for ships in bad weather when they cannot keep at
sea. The entrance of the Humber is also considerably obstructed with
sand-banks, of which the mariner is, if possible, more afraid than
of rocks, because more liable to uncertainty, by the shifting of
their position, and thereby changing the direction of the accustomed
channels. The great places of resort for ships, therefore, in the
North Sea, are the Roads of Leith and Cromarty, lying in the Friths of
Forth and Moray, as will be seen from Plate III., in both of which
we find the natural advantages of an ample entrance, and a coast so
strongly marked as to be easily recognised by the mariner. But from the
dangerous position of the Bell Rock, his approach to the shores of this
coast, prior to the erection of the Light-house there, was liable to
the greatest peril and uncertainty.

[Sidenote: Great storm in December 1799.]

A memorable example of this occurred during a storm from the
south-east, in the month of December 1799. This storm having continued
with little intermission for three days; a number of vessels were
driven from their moorings in the Downs and Yarmouth Roads; and these,
together with all vessels navigating the German Ocean at this time,
were drifted upon the coast of Scotland. Many found shelter, both in
Leith and Cromarty Roads, which, from the state of the winds, lay quite
open for their reception. But still, from the dread of the Bell Rock,
in the one case, and the danger of mistaking the entrance to the Frith
of Dornoch for that of Moray, by taking the northern instead of the
southern side of Tarbetness, in the other, a great number of vessels
were lost, or much hardship was sustained by the mariner in seeking
safety in higher latitudes. It has even been reckoned, that seventy
sail of ships were either stranded or lost upon the eastern coast of
Scotland during that gale, when many of their crews perished.

At the Bullers of Buchan, near Peterhead, alone, on the first night
of this storm, the wrecks of seven vessels were found in a small
cove, without one survivor of the crews, to give an account of their
disaster. As a remarkable instance of escape on this occasion, it may
be mentioned, that a coal-ship, in ballast, returning from London to
Newcastle, was carried completely round the coast of Great Britain and
Ireland, the first land made by this vessel, after leaving Flamborough
Head in Yorkshire, being the Land’s End of Cornwall. Having put
into Falmouth to refit the ship and refresh the exhausted crew, she
continued her voyage up the British Channel to the Straits of Dover,
and so to Newcastle, thus making a complete circuit of the British
shores. In the summer of 1800, the writer saw the wrecks of two fine
vessels on the Orkney Islands; one of which, on her way to Gibraltar,
had been as far as Ushant on the coast of France, when, by contrary
winds, she had been driven back to the Downs, and, in the month of
December 1799, she was ultimately stranded on the Island of Sanday,
along with the other vessel, which in that gale had been driven from
Yarmouth Roads.

From the situation and circumstances attending the Bell Rock, it may
well be supposed, that this dangerous sunken reef was found to be
either the direct or ultimate cause, in many cases of shipwreck upon
the eastern coast of Great Britain, and as such, every scheme which
had for its object the fixing of some distinguishing mark upon it, was
regarded as a matter of public interest, claiming a degree of attention
proportionate to its apparent practicability and usefulness. The
traditionary story of the Bell said to have been erected by the Abbots
of Aberbrothock upon this rock may, perhaps, have given rise to many
plans of this nature. But, on account of the limited advantages which
must have attended any erection merely in the form of a beacon, without
a light, upon a sunken rock, at so great a distance from land,--none of
the many proposals of this kind which were from time to time suggested,
ever met with the serious attention of the public. It was evident, that
nothing but a light-house could not be essentially useful, and that all
temporary erections in a situation of this kind were to be avoided.

[Sidenote: Sir Alex. Cochrane’s Letter.]

The following letter from Sir Alexander Cochrane, while stationed on
the eastern coast in the year 1793, is particularly deserving of a
place in this work, as well from being the first official application
made to the Commissioners on the subject of the Bell Rock, as on
account of that officer’s great experience in nautical affairs, and the
clear and decided manner in which the advantages which would result
from the erection of a light-house there, are pointed out.

“_On board his Majesty’s ship Hind, Leith Roads, January 7. 1793._
Gentlemen, I think it a duty I owe to the public, to call your
attention, as Trustees for the Northern Lights, to the great hazard and
peril that the trade of the east of Scotland is subject to, from the
want of a light-house being erected on the Bell or Cape Rock, the only
dangerous one upon this coast, from the Staples to Duncansbay-head,
except the Carr, which lies so close to Fifeness and the Isle of May as
to render it comparatively of less consequence.

“The situation of the Cape being about 12 miles from the nearest
shore, bearing off the Redhead, by compass, S. ¾ W.--Taybar, SE.
by E. ¼ E.--Fifeness, NE. by E.--Isle of May Light, NE. 17 miles,
(consequently, too distant to be useful to shipping during the night);
this rock is therefore placed in the most dangerous situation possible,
for the trade of the Friths of Forth and Tay; the more so, from the
prevailing winds on the coast, being from the W.NW. to SW., which
occasion vessels bound inwards, to stretch across from shore to shore,
that is, from the south to the north, or the opposite, according to
their situations. This they can do in the day time; but at night, the
danger of falling in with the Cape Rock, prevents them from standing
to the northward of the Frith of Forth, and they are thereby prevented
from taking the advantage of working up under the land in St Andrew’s
Bay, by which they would get into smooth water, and avoid the heavy
swell and gusts of wind that are always met with in the opening of this

“Ships from the Baltic, which have not made the land, are often
driven off the coast, from the caution they are obliged to take, in
consequence of their not knowing what their situation is respecting
this rock; which, from being covered early in the tide, and having
little or no sea or breakers on it in moderate weather, the wind being
off the shore, the soundings are no guide whatever; for, within one
mile of the south-east side, the depth of water is 32 fathoms, (the
general soundings on the coast); from all which circumstances, a ship
standing in for the shore, perhaps without having had an observation of
the sun for some days, runs the utmost danger of being wrecked. From
the experience I have, in consequence of cruizing on this coast, I
give it as my most decided opinion, that the greatest good consequence
would arise to the trade of Scotland, were a light-house erected on it;
but, in the event of its being so, a distinction must be made between
it and the light of May, such as is adopted at Scilly and the Caskets,
the light on which revolves, I believe, once in a minute, so as to be
obscured and visible alternately.”

[Sidenote: Expence of a Light-house on the Bell Rock, as estimated by
the Public.]

[Sidenote: Designs for the Bell Rock Light-house.]

Although the subject of this letter had occasionally occupied the
attention of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, yet the
Bell Rock, as the site of a light-house, was then for the first time
brought formally under the notice of the Board; and some erection
there, was considered a primary object, whenever the funds should be
in a state to meet the expence of such a work. But, the estimates
for such an undertaking admitted of an almost unlimited range of
amount, both from the nature of the buildings which were proposed,
and on account of works of this kind being subject to unavoidable
risk in all their stages, from the commencement till the completion.
In conversation, it was common to compare the situation of the Bell
Rock with the rocks of the Eddystone off Plymouth Sound, and Corduan
at the mouth of the Garonne. The expence of erecting a light-house
on the Eddystone, though understood to have been about L. 20,000, has
never been communicated to the public by the lessees of the light-house
duties, from the consideration, perhaps, of their being obliged, by
their agreement with the Trinity Board of London, to erect and uphold
the building, and also from claims which they afterwards made, for
having the value of the light-house reimbursed to them at the end of
their lease; but it was well known that the present building is no less
than the third erection which the lessees had made upon the Eddystone,
between 1696 and 1759, or in the space of 63 years. It was therefore
natural to conclude that a building on the Bell Rock, situate under a
greater depth of water, being nearly on a level with low-water mark,
would be a work of greater difficulty and expence, than the Eddystone
light-house, where the top of the rock is on a level with high-water
mark. We are also left in the dark in forming any opinion on the
important point of expence with regard to the French work at Corduan,
but we know that it met with repeated misfortunes while in progress,
and that it occupied from 1584 till 1610, or 26 years in building. The
main rock here is about a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth,
and, in its position as a sunken reef, it resembles the Bell Rock more
than the Eddystone. From the difficulties which attended the erection
of these two celebrated light-houses,--both of which the writer
has visited,--the erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock, in
comparison with these, was estimated by the public at so wide a range
as from L. 20,000 even to L. 100,000.

[Sidenote: Funds for the Light-house Board inadequate.]

In the year 1793, when Admiral Cochrane addressed his letter to the
Light-house Board, its surplus funds amounted only to a few hundred
pounds; a sum so inadequate to meet the necessary expenditure of such
a work, that the Commissioners judged it better for the interests of
navigation, to go forward with the less expensive improvements on other
parts of the coast, aware that nothing essential could be undertaken at
the Bell Rock without the effectual aid of Government.

In this state, matters were allowed to rest till the great storm in
December 1799, already noticed, which roused the public mind to fresh
speculations about the necessity of some erection being made upon the
Bell Rock; not merely as a local improvement, but as one essentially
calculated to benefit the ships navigating the German Ocean, by
opening the Frith of Forth more effectually as a place of safety in
easterly storms, so that the Bell Rock, in place of being the dread
of mariners, might in future become a point from which they would
take their departure, and for which they might steer in sailing for
the coast. Nautical and commercial men, especially, were interested,
and felt this state of things in its fullest extent. Remarks were
accordingly made in several of the periodical publications of the day,
calling the attention of the public to the erection of a light-house
there, as a subject of national importance.

In order to advance this object, the Corporation of the Trinity-House
of Leith, made public advertisements, calling on persons likely to
produce some practical plan that might lead to the means of making the
erection in question. This, of course, produced various propositions on
the subject.

_Designs for the Bell Rock Light-house._

[Sidenote: Designs by Captain Brodie and Mr Couper.]

The late Captain Joseph Brodie of the Royal Navy, prepared and brought
forward a model of a cast-iron light-house, supported upon four
pillars, to be built and connected together in a very strong manner.
This model was made by Mr Joseph Couper, Iron-Founder in Leith, who,
in conjunction with Captain Brodie, proposed to erect a light-house on
this plan on the Bell Rock, on being authorised to draw certain duties
from shipping for their mutual remuneration. With this view, they sent
their model, and made certain propositions to the different commercial
towns on the coast, as Newcastle, Dundee, and Aberdeen. After having
been at considerable trouble and expence with this scheme, as a private
adventure, these gentlemen applied to the Commissioners of the Northern
Light-houses, requesting their inspection of this model. The design,
however, was not altogether approved of by the Light-house Board, in
the form in which it had been modelled; yet such was the confidence
of its projectors, that at different times, in pursuance of their
plan, they erected two temporary beacons, constructed with spars of
fir-timber; these unfortunately were almost immediately washed down.
The Merchants of Leith, applauding the great perseverance of these
gentlemen, aided their exertions by a subscription of about L. 150,
when they erected a third beacon on the Bell Rock on a more extended
scale. It consisted of four spars of fir-timber, each about 40 feet
in length, strengthened by flat bars of iron, laid the lengthway of
the spars, which were kept in their places by rings or hoops of iron,
firmly wedged over them. These spars, when erected upon the rock,
formed a common diameter of about 20 feet at the base, and crossed
each other about 6 feet from the top. They were let into holes made in
the rock, of about ten inches in depth, and were fixed by straps of
iron, forming bats of about two inches square, and about six inches
in length, which were also let into the rock, and run up with melted
lead. At the place of junction, near the top, the spars were bolted
together with iron, and above this, they were connected with small
pieces of timber, nailed to the principal spars. After much labour and
difficulty, with the assistance of a number of workmen, this temporary
erection was fixed on the Bell Rock, in the month of July 1803. In
the month of August the writer landed on the rock and examined it;
but when the gales of winter set in, this erection also disappeared,
having never been seen after the 20th of December. Nothing further
was attempted to be done upon the Bell Rock till the author commenced
the Light-house operations in the year 1807, by direction of the
Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses.

[Sidenote: Make further proposals to the Light-house Board.]

Not discouraged, however, by the failure of these trifling works,
Captain Brodie and Mr Couper addressed a letter to the Light-house
Board, in which an offer was made to erect a cast-iron light-house, in
the space of two years, agreeably to the model already alluded to, and
on the following terms, viz. L. 6000 to be paid over to them during the
first year of the work, together with the produce of a certain Duty for
the erection, to be exacted from shipping, as a Northern Light, until
the original cost of the work should be paid off. But this description
of building having been considered objectionable, Captain Brodie
proposed to construct a new model, upon an improved plan, by which the
base of the building, instead of being raised on pillars, was to be
continuous, with small interstices or holes in its circumference, or
outer casing, to admit the water into the interior void, with a view
to lessen the weight and expence of metal, and check the force of the
sea. But this also appeared to the Commissioners to be defective, when
compared with an erection of stone, like the Eddystone and Tour de
Corduan Light-houses.

[Sidenote: Captain Brodie’s remuneration.]

Captain Brodie having, however, shewn a most laudable zeal in this
work, and considering that he must have expended a sum of money beyond
what had been subscribed for the erection of the Spar Beacon, the
Commissioners proposed to make him a liberal allowance for the last
model, to the preparation of which they had given their countenance.
He was accordingly requested to state the expence of this model,
with a view to his reimbursement. But, under an erroneous impression,
he brought forward an account, containing an enumeration of charges
connected with the Bell Rock, from the year 1792; and by applying
these items to the imaginary profits of trade, the sum amounted to
several thousand pounds. This appeared so contrary to the views of the
Commissioners, that the account was returned, with an offer of L. 400
in full of all claims. This sum, however, was refused, and another
proposition made, that the Board should apply to Government to have his
services publicly rewarded. But it was finally intimated, that L. 400
were at his disposal; and here the matter rested till after Captain
Brodie’s decease, when that sum, with interest, was, in 1816, paid to
his widow.

[Sidenote: The Author’s early designs for the Bell Rock Light-house.]

In noticing the progress of the designs of the Bell Rock Light-house,
it will here be necessary to give some detail of the writer’s own
exertions in the preliminary stages of this measure, in his capacity
of Engineer for the Light-house Board. In the summer of 1794, when on
a voyage to the Northern Light-houses, in passing the Bell Rock, he
directed the vessel to be brought near it, when he had an opportunity
of observing the sea breaking heavily upon it. From this period, the
difficulties which must attend the erection of a habitation on this
rock, appeared in a stronger point of view than they had hitherto
done. He, nevertheless, was resolved to embrace every opportunity
of forwarding this great object. In the year 1796, he visited the
operations of the Kilwarlin light-house, then erecting on the South
Rock, a sunken reef, situate three miles off the coast of Downshire in
Ireland, as a work resembling that which was in contemplation for the
Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: His pillar-formed Light-house.]

The disastrous shipwrecks which occasionally happened at the entrance
of the Friths of Forth and Tay, deeply impressed every one conversant
in nautical affairs, with the most convincing proofs of the necessity
for some distinguishing mark being erected upon the Bell Rock. As
yet, the writer had not landed upon the rock; though he had begun to
prepare a model of a pillar-formed light-house, to be supported upon
six columns of cast-iron, under the impression that this description of
building was alone suitable to its situation. The general features of
this model may be understood, by examining Plate VII., which represents
the author’s original designs for the Bell Rock Light-house.

In the summer of the year 1800, this model was presented to the
Light-house Board, when an official application was made to the
Commissioners of his Majesty’s Customs, for the use of the Osnaburgh
cutter, then lying in the harbour of Elie, on the coast of Fife, to
carry the writer to the Bell Rock, that, by landing there, he might be
enabled to judge of the applicability of his pillar-formed design to
the situation of the rock. Upon reaching Elie, the Osnaburgh was found
to be under repair, and could not possibly go to sea for several days,
by which time the spring-tides would be over. On consulting with the
commander, as to the most advisable course to be followed, in order to
avoid losing these tides, it was resolved to go to St Andrew’s in quest
of a boat; but being there also disappointed, the journey was continued
along the coast to West Haven, on the northern side of the Frith of
Tay, where a large boat was procured, and manned with fishermen who
were in the habit of visiting the rock to search for articles of

[Sidenote: His first visit to the Bell Rock, with Mr Haldane,

On this first visit to the Bell Rock, the writer was accompanied by his
friend Mr James Haldane, architect, formerly principal assistant to the
late eminent Mr John Baxter. The crew being unwilling to risk their
boat into any of the creeks in the rock, very properly observing that
the lives of all depended upon her safety, and as we could only remain
upon the rock for two or three hours at most, we landed upon a shelving
part on the south side of the rock, at the spot marked “First Landing”
on Plate VI. Having been extremely fortunate both as to the state of
the weather and tides, an opportunity was afforded of making a sketch
of the rock at low water: meantime, the boatmen were busily employed in
searching all the holes and crevices in quest of articles of shipwreck,
and by the time that the tide overflowed the rock, they had collected
upwards of 2 cwt. of old metal, consisting of such things as are used
on shipboard. A few of these were kept by the writer, such as a hinge
and lock of a door, a ship’s marking-iron, a piece of a ship’s coboose
(or _kambuis_, cover of the cooking-place), a soldier’s bayonet,
a canon ball, several pieces of money, a shoe-buckle, &c.; while
the heavier and more bulky articles, as a piece of a kedge-anchor,
cabin-stove, crowbars, &c. were left with the crew, who were, however,
disposed to make very light of their booty, when it was urged in
extenuation of an extravagant demand which they made for the boat’s
freight, being at the rate of one guinea _per_ man, and one guinea for
the use of the boat, besides expences, amounting altogether to about
eleven guineas.

[Sidenote: He concludes that a building of stone is most suitable for
the Bell Rock.]

The immediate result of this visit on the mind of the writer and of
Mr Haldane, was a firm conviction of the practicability of erecting a
building of stone upon the Bell Rock; and from that moment the idea
of a pillar-formed light-house was rejected, as unsuitable to the
situation. This opinion was chiefly founded upon the area or extent of
the part which dried, or was exposed to view in the spring-tides, being
found to measure about 280 by 300 feet, and consequently affording a
sufficient space for a foundation, and even a degree of shelter from
the force of the waves, for the lower courses of a building.

[Sidenote: Pillar-formed building compared with one of stone.]

The depth at high-water upon the Bell Rock was much against the design
of a building with pillars, as a vessel drawing 12 feet water, and
loaded with 100 or even 200 tons, may come with full sail against
any erection made there. Were such a circumstance to happen to a
pillar-formed building, and a ship to get thus entangled among the
openings of the under part of the light-house, there is little doubt
that the event would prove fatal to a building of that construction,
however strongly framed. On the contrary, supposing a vessel to strike
a building of stone, under these circumstances, it is not at all
likely, that she could have any effect upon a mass of matter extending
to 2000 or 3000 tons, so as to injure such a fabric.

[Sidenote: Author’s designs and models of a stone-building.]

Under these impressions, the writer, after his first visit to the Bell
Rock, in the year 1800, made a variety of drawings, and constructed
new models for a building of stone, shewing various methods of
connecting the stones, by dove-tailing them laterally, like those of
the Eddystone light-house, and also course to course into one another
perpendicularly. Other methods were likewise modelled, for connecting
the whole building in a more simple manner, by means of joggles, or
square blocks of stone, and also by dove-tailed bats of iron cased in
lead, as delineated in the various designs of Plate VII. These plans
and models were duly submitted to the Light-house Board, accompanied
with estimates of the expence, amounting to the maximum sum of L.
42,685, 8s.

[Sidenote: Mr Telford requested to visit the Bell Rock.]

Sir William Pulteney having taken an interest in forwarding a bill for
this measure in Parliament in the year 1803, gave Mr Thomas Telford,
engineer, instructions to inquire into the circumstances of the Bell
Rock, in the course of his journey to the Works of the Caledonian
Canal. Mr Telford had accordingly taken some preparatory steps for
making a Design; and, with this view, he had engaged Mr Murdoch
Downie, author of several Marine Surveys, to accompany him to the Bell
Rock. But the weather proved unfavourable at the time for effecting
a landing upon the rock; and, the bill then in progress having been
withdrawn before another opportunity occurred, Mr Telford’s visit was
not resumed.

[Sidenote: Mr Downie’s pillar-formed Light-house of Stone.]

Mr Downie, however, who had previously been upon the rock, when making
his Nautical Survey of the Eastern Coast of Scotland, prepared a
drawing and an estimate of the expence of erecting a light-house upon
it, which he stated at about L. 29,000. His light-house was to have
consisted of eight columns of stone, of an elliptical or egg form, as
he expressed it, ranged round a common centre, having the longer axis
and smaller end towards a circular column in the centre of the plan.
These columns were to support a circular building of stone for the
habitation of the light-keepers and the site of the light room. By
this plan it was meant to give less resistance to the waves. But it
did not seem to be well adapted for the situation, as it wanted that
solidity and unity of parts which are so essential to the stability of
a building upon a sunken rock. Such a work would have been of difficult
execution. It would have required similar apparatus with the solid
masonry for its construction, and while in progress, it would have been
in greater danger of being destroyed than a solid fabric. There seemed,
therefore, upon the whole, to be but two opinions as to the proper
description of a light-house for this situation, viz. either that it
should be constructed of iron, as was maintained by Captain Brodie, or
of solid masonry, as proposed by the writer.

_Bill by Lord Advocate Hope._

[Sidenote: Bell Rock Light-house proposed at a Meeting of the Royal

The erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock had been occasionally
alluded to at the Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, which
meets annually at Edinburgh; and, in consequence of recent losses on
that reef, the Convention of 1802 was moved, by Provost Duncan of
Arbroath, to take this subject under its serious consideration. It
was accordingly resolved, That the Lord Advocate Hope, one of the
Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, and Member of Parliament
for the City of Edinburgh, should be requested to use his influence in
forwarding this desirable object. His Lordship being present, readily
engaged to undertake the measure, and declared that he would not allow
it to rest until something satisfactory should be done.

The Commissioners of the Light-houses having afterwards furnished the
particulars, the heads of a bill were arranged, which, in the session
of 1803, was brought forward by his Lordship and the late Sir William
Pulteney, who took a great interest in the Scotch business before
the House of Commons. This bill had for its object to empower the
Commissioners to borrow L. 30,000, and to exact the Northern Light-duty
of 1½d. _per_ ton upon British shipping, and 3d. _per_ ton upon
Foreigners, from all vessels bound to or from any port on the eastern
coast of Great Britain, that should cross the latitude of the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Bill lost in the House of Lords.]

This bill passed the House of Commons in the session of 1803; but
having met with opposition from the corporation of the City of London,
as including too great a range of coast in the collection of the
duties, such amendments and alterations were proposed in the House of
Lords, as rendered it necessary for the Lord Advocate to withdraw the

[Sidenote: Works proposed of less expence than a stone building.]

The expectations of nautical and commercial men were severely
disappointed by the loss of this bill, which occasioned a delay of
several years in the prosecution of the object. It was obvious, that,
without considerable funds at command, it was impossible to undertake
a work of such magnitude. The annual funds of the Light-house Board
at this period amounted only to about L. 4000, and the maintenance
of the light-houses already erected was equal to one-half of this
sum, which would leave a surplus fund of about L. 2000 _per annum_.
But, as the Commissioners found it to be their duty to go on with
their improvements on the other parts of the coast, without confining
their attention to one object, however important, it was impossible
that this great work could be undertaken for a series of years,
without the direct aid of the Government, or an extension of the
Light-house duties, on the security of which money might be borrowed.
In consequence of the loss of this bill, the dangers of the Bell Rock
now became very generally the topic of conversation; and various
schemes were again suggested for constructing economical and temporary
buildings to remedy the evil.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of determining among these proposals.]

In a work of so much apparent difficulty, it was not easy for the
Light-house Board to determine what was the most advisable design. The
pillar-formed building was supported by many arguments. It would have
been executed in a very short period, and would not, perhaps, have cost
one-sixth part of the expence of a building of stone. A light-house,
supported upon wooden pillars, had also stood for many years, and still
remains, upon the Smalls Rocks, off St David’s-Head, in Pembrokeshire,
although the sea, in high tides, and stormy weather, occasionally
breaks over the building. But a fabric of stone, for such a situation
as the Bell Rock, was evidently preferable, and the examples of the
Tour de Corduan, the Eddystone, and the Kilwarlin light-houses, already
noticed, were all in favour of it.

[Sidenote: Mr Rennie consulted and agrees with the Author in
recommending a building of stone.]

Amidst a diversity of opinion as to the practicability of the
undertaking, and especially as to the description of the building,
whether it should be of cast-iron or stone, and in the form of pillars
or solid, the Commissioners ultimately determined upon submitting
the several views of the subject to Mr John Rennie, engineer. In the
year 1804, Mr Rennie and the writer accompanied Mr Hamilton, Sheriff
of Lanarkshire, one of the Commissioners, and who had turned much of
his attention to the subject, on a visit to the Bell Rock. They made
a favourable landing; and Mr Rennie had only been a short time upon
the rock, when he gave his decided opinion upon the practicability of
the proposed erection of stone. He had examined the author’s designs
and models, and afterwards made a Report, in which he coincided with
him in recommending to the Board the adoption of a building of stone,
on the principles of the Eddystone Light-house. Sanctioned with such
authority, the Commissioners were finally confirmed in the resolution,
that the Bell Rock Light-house should be a tower of masonry similar to
that of the Eddystone.

[Sidenote: The Light-house Board takes the sense of the Mercantile
Interest in this measure.]

Hitherto the general opinion throughout the country, and especially
at all the sea-ports, had been anxiously expressed for the erection
of a light-house of some kind on the Bell Rock. But before going a
second time to Parliament with this measure, the Commissioners thought
it advisable to take the sense of the mercantile interest at the
ports more immediately connected with the navigation of the Frith
of Forth, such as Leith, Aberdeen, Dundee, Montrose, Arbroath, and
Berwick-upon-Tweed, as to the utility of the light-house, and the
propriety of obtaining an act of Parliament, to empower them to levy
duties for the erection and maintenance of the proposed building. A
number of Reports were accordingly received, all approving of the
measure; but one of these only need be inserted, from the Corporation
of Traders in Leith, as it may be considered as conveying the
sentiments of all the others.

[Sidenote: Report of the Traders of Leith.]

  REPORT of the COMMITTEE appointed by the Incorporation of the Traders
  in Leith, relative to the expediency of erecting a Light-house on the
  Cape or Bell Rock.

  “The Committee, justly sensible of the great importance of the
  object referred to their consideration, have endeavoured to inform
  themselves, more especially on those points to which their attention
  is particularly called by the letter of the Commissioners.

  “The result of these inquiries, as far as regards the number of
  vessels known, from the safety of the crews, to have been wrecked
  upon the Bell Rock, within these last ten years, amount to four, viz.
  two smacks trading between London and Banff, one brig from Holland,
  and a sloop from Hamburgh.

  “These losses, although the vessels were all valuable, may at first
  view appear comparatively small, but to your Committee, they serve
  as a powerful evidence, in support of the opinion given by all
  maritime people, of the fatal position and nature of this rock,
  where, from the tremendous sea which even a moderate gale occasions,
  total destruction is almost the inevitable consequence of any vessel
  striking upon it.

  “Situate off the openings of the two Friths of Tay and Forth, the
  Bell Rock stands a frightful bar, to deter vessels making the land
  from attempting it in the night-time, when they require most to seek
  its shelter; and, if unhappily overtaken with a gale at SE., when
  near the latitude of this rock, the alternative, dangerous as it must
  appear, of stretching to the northward, along a scarce less frightful
  coast, to gain the Murray Frith, is frequently, in such perilous
  cases, had recourse to.

  “In the beginning of 1800, fifty or sixty vessels were cast away;
  and, from the circumstances of most of them being bound south of the
  Forth, but driven towards it by the violence of the storm, there can
  be no reason to doubt, that, had it been possible for these vessels
  to have attempted with safety the shelter of the Frith of Forth, many
  lives and much property would by this means have been preserved.

  “The dread, however, of the Bell Rock, induced them on that occasion
  to prefer hauling to the northward, and encountering a sea and tide
  surpassed in few places of the globe. This fatal apprehension was
  followed by the disastrous consequences already mentioned.

  “The Committee have, indeed, no hesitation in giving it as their
  opinion, that the greater part of the losses which occur, even from
  the Coquet Island, as far as the Murray Frith, arise from vessels
  either actually striking upon, or from an over-solicitude to keep
  at a distance from, this fatal rock. To the latter cause, there is
  great reason to believe, from many concurrent circumstances attending
  her loss, and from parts of her wreck being washed ashore near
  Buchanness, his Majesty’s ship York, of 64 guns, fell a sacrifice,
  with all her crew. Indeed, if the number of vessels is calculated,
  which, within these last ten years, have been cast away within the
  above-mentioned extent of coast, they will be found to amount to more
  than one hundred.

  “That the erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock would obviate
  many of these dangers is sufficiently evident, and merchants, as well
  as seafaring men, trading to the east coast of Scotland, as well as
  to the north of England, are alike interested in the accomplishment
  of this desirable object.

  “In a national point of view, the advantages that would result from
  it are incalculable; but none more forcible need be adduced, than
  that of its serving as the direct means of preservation to the
  invaluable lives of numerous British seamen.

  “All these considerations induce your Committee to give this measure
  their full approbation; and that such a necessary object has not
  been sooner attained, must rather have proceeded from the supposed
  difficulty of the execution, than any hesitation as to the expediency
  of it.

  “Your Committee, in reply to that part of the letter of the
  Commissioners, in which the Traffickers of Leith are required to
  signify, in the event of their concurrence in the measure, whether
  they will support the application of the Commissioners by petition
  to Parliament, have again to state, that giving, as they do, their
  full approbation to the expediency of erecting a light-house on the
  Bell Rock, they can have no hesitation in joining in any petition to
  Parliament to that effect. But the funds of this Incorporation being
  appropriated to specific purposes, no pecuniary aid can be afforded
  by them as a Society.

  “To so great a national benefit as this will certainly prove, they
  will contribute, by willingly submitting to a tax on all shipping
  passing the Bell Rock, provided the duty so imposed does not exceed
  that laid on for any light in England, whose situation may bear
  resemblance to that to be erected upon the Bell Rock.

  “The Trinity-House of Leith, to whom, the Committee is informed,
  the Commissioners have likewise applied, must be supposed better
  qualified to give detailed information upon the whole of this subject
  than your Committee; and the more especially, as one among their
  number has, for a period exceeding twenty years, made the dangers
  of the Bell Rock, and the means to be applied to avoid or lessen
  them, his peculiar study. Captain Joseph Brodie has, at great risk,
  and certainly at no little expence, and without any expectation of
  recompence, beyond that of having served his country, frequently
  visited the Bell Rock, and at one time succeeded in erecting a Beacon
  upon it, which withstood the fury of the sea for several months.

  “The Committee, therefore, consider him well qualified to give the
  Commissioners information on the subject; and the various models of
  light-houses applicable to this rock, which, with much labour and
  ingenuity, he has invented, will be found highly valuable, whenever
  the execution of the business shall come to be taken into final
  consideration.--(Signed) James Searth, Master; Wm. Mowbray, Assist.;
  Wm. Dougal, Assist.; Arch. Geddes, James Pillans _junior_.”

[Sidenote: Report of the Merchants of Berwick.]

The dangerous situation of the Bell Rock, and the losses which have
either occurred upon, or in consequence of it, were also strongly
expressed in all the other documents communicated to the Light-house
Board; and we may further form a judgment of the extent of the serious
consequences of this rock to the shipping on the coast, by what was
stated in the communication from Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was therein
mentioned, that two vessels had struck upon this rock in one night; and
that other two, which had been built at Berwick, and sold to a Shipping
Company at Banff, were afterwards lost upon the same reef. It also
deserves notice, that Captain Allardice, who commanded one of those
vessels, had the misfortune, in the course of his profession, to have
been twice wrecked upon the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Resolution of the Light-house Board to apply again to

These statements, furnished upon unquestionable authority, of the
losses occasioned by the Bell Rock, satisfied the Commissioners of
the propriety of persisting in their original plan of obtaining an
act of Parliament and a loan for this special purpose. After various
meetings of the Board, for adjusting the heads of a bill, the measure
was finally resolved upon at a meeting, held on the 19th February
1806, at which the following members were present: Mr James Clerk,
Sheriff-Depute of Edinburghshire, Mr Robert Hamilton, Sheriff-Depute
of Lanarkshire, Mr William Rae, Sheriff-Depute of Orkney and Shetland,
Mr James Trail, Sheriff-depute of Caithness, Mr John Connell,
Sheriff-Depute of Renfrewshire, Mr Edward M’Cormick, Sheriff-Depute of
Ayrshire, and Mr David Monypenny, Sheriff-Depute of Fife.

This meeting having also taken into consideration a memorial, prepared
by Mr Hamilton, pointing out the importance and urgency of the measure,
ordered it to be printed; and requested him to proceed to London, to
submit the memorial, and the documents on which it was founded, to
the consideration of His Majesty’s Ministers, and other Members of

[Sidenote: Mr Hamilton and the Author go to London.]

Mr Hamilton went to London in the month of April 1806, when the author
also attended, with his plans and estimates, to prove the preamble of
the bill. Mr Hamilton having transmitted the memorial to the heads of
the departments of the Treasury, the Admiralty, and the Board of Trade,
requested an audience from them on the subject. He had a meeting with
the Board of Trade, and urged the proposition for a loan, or advance
from Government, of L. 25,000, on the security of the duties which the
proposed light-house would produce. It was, however, recommended that
application should also be made to the other two Boards. Some time
thereafter, a conference on the matter was held with Lord Howick, then
at the head of the Admiralty, and Admiral Markham,--when the plans of
the projected building were shewn to them,--it was stated that all that
was wanting to enable the work to be proceeded with, was the advance
from Government,--and the importance of the proposed light-house was
at this interview pointed out, not only as to trade, but as a guide
and protection for the Navy while cruising in the German Ocean. But
their Lordships still considered the undertaking chiefly as of a
local nature, and comparatively of little benefit to the Navy. Not
discouraged, however, by this unsuccessful application, Mr Hamilton
soon after obtained an audience of Lord Grenville, First Commissioner
of the Treasury, who examined the charts, plans, elevations and
sections of the projected building with much attention,--declared
himself fully convinced of the importance and expediency of the
measure,--and promised that the loan by Government, and every other
expedient for the advancement of the design, should have his support.
The patronage of the First Minister of State having been thus obtained,
Mr Hamilton returned to his public duties in Scotland, leaving the
farther proceedings in the application to the charge of the writer,
with the assistance of Mr Longlands, solicitor for the Light-house
Board in London.

_Bill by Lord Advocate Erskine._

[Sidenote: The Loan from Government becomes doubtful.]

The Hon. Henry Erskine, Lord Advocate of Scotland, took charge of the
Bill in Parliament. But, notwithstanding his Lordship’s attention to
the business, so much time was lost in furnishing various statements,
relative to the probable amount of the new duties to be levied, and the
security to be given for repayment of the loan, that little progress
was made with the bill, till the middle of the month of June. By this
time, the prospect of the loan became so doubtful, that it was thought
advisable by some friends to the measure to take the bill without it.
But the Commissioners, after considering the tendency of such a bill,
in tying up their funds for an indefinite period for one object, and
thus preventing the extension of the benefit of additional light-houses
to other parts of the coast, were of opinion, that, unless the loan
was granted, they must withdraw their petition for the bill, and allow
the business to lie over till the duties were in such a condition as
to enable the work to be undertaken. The author was therefore directed
to consider himself as at liberty to leave London, if it should appear
that the loan could not be obtained.

[Sidenote: Board of Trade favourable to the Loan.]

Lord Auckland, President of the Board of Trade, was favourable to the
proposal of the loan; and Sir Joseph Banks, the Vice-President, having
entered warmly into the measure, and at a meeting of the 7th June,
urged its necessity so strongly, that the Board desired a Memorial to
be presented on the following points:--Of the coast to be subjected
to the Duty of the Northern Lights, by the erection of the Bell
Rock light-house;--of the trade and mercantile interest to pay this
additional duty;--of the security to be given to Government for the
repayment of the loan of L. 25,000;--and of the assurance to be given,
that this sum, together with the surplus funds in the possession of the
Commissioners, would accomplish a building of so much hazard.

The following Memorial was accordingly presented.

  “To the Right Hon. the Lords of the Committee of Council, relating
  to Trade,--The Humble Memorial of the Commissioners, for erecting
  Light-Houses on the Northern parts of Great Britain;


  [Sidenote: Memorial to the Board of Trade.]

  “That the memorialists have taken the liberty of stating, in a former
  Memorial hereunto annexed, the reasons that have induced them to
  apply to the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury, for
  their support to an application to Parliament, for the loan of so
  much money as will enable them to build a light-house upon the Cape
  or Bell Rock,--an object of much consequence to the navigation of
  the North Sea, from the many fatal shipwrecks it has occasioned. The
  Memorialists have been much pressed and solicited by the commercial
  interest of the country, to get this accomplished; and by opening
  the Frith of Forth as a place of safety, by the erection of this
  light-house, the navigation of the northern coasts of the kingdom
  will be greatly facilitated.

  “It now appears, by the accompanying Custom-House returns, on an
  average of three years, that the duties which would be received for a
  light-house on the Bell Rock would amount to L. 2617:3:9½; and by
  the accounts of the Commissioners of Northern Lights, annually laid
  before Parliament, it will be seen, that the memorialists have of
  annual surplus duties L. 1350, amounting together to L. 3967, which,
  it is thought, will be considered a sufficient security for the
  interest of the sum that may be advanced by the public.

  “On erecting a light-house on the Bell Rock, the Commissioners, by
  the existing acts, would be empowered to levy the above duties of L.
  2617, 3s. 9½d.; and it appears by the representations from the
  ports more immediately interested, that they highly approve of the

  “The memorialists have received several estimates of the expence
  of erecting a light-house upon the Bell Rock. They have more
  particularly had recourse to the professional abilities and advice
  of Mr Rennie and Mr Stevenson, Civil Engineers, from whose reports
  they have reason to believe that the sum will not exceed L. 48,000.
  The memorialists have already in the 3 _per cent._ consols L. 28,000
  of surplus duties, (about L. 16,800). If the public, therefore, are
  induced to advance L. 25,000 by instalments in the course of three
  years, making together about L. 41,800, the memorialists presume,
  that, with the application of the whole surplus duties for a time,
  this sum will be perfectly sufficient to enable them to complete
  a work so long recommended, and so anxiously desired.” (For the
  statements above referred to, see Appendix, No. III.)

[Sidenote: Sir Joseph Banks makes further exertions for the Loan.]

Observations by the several members of the Board of Trade having
been made upon this memorial, it was more especially referred to Sir
Joseph Banks, to give an opinion, as having himself sailed along that
coast. Sir Joseph, knowing from experience the horrors of sunken
rocks, supported the proposition of the loan, not only as one of
expediency, but of necessity and humanity to the seafaring people of
a great portion of the kingdom, and gave his most decided and hearty
concurrence to the recommendation to the Treasury. After describing the
extensive advantages to be derived by shipping from the establishment
of a light-house upon the Bell Rock, he pointedly alluded to the
probable loss of the York Man-of-war upon it; and observed, that the
security and facility to be derived to the extensive shipping of this
coast, should not be overlooked for the advance of so small a sum as L.
25,000. After the matter had been deliberated on for some time at the
Board, Lord Auckland intimated to Mr Longlands, and the author, that a
report would be made to the Treasury.

[Sidenote: Bill Read a first time in the House of Commons.]

This was communicated to the Lord Advocate, who, at an early day,
moved for leave to bring in a bill, “To enable the Commissioners of
the Northern Light-houses to levy certain duties upon the shipping,
and also to enable the Lords of His Majesty’s Treasury to grant a loan
of L. 25,000 from the 3 _per cent._ consolidated fund for the erection
of a light-house upon a certain dangerous sunken reef, called the Bell
Rock, lying at the distance of twelve miles from the nearest land, at
the entrance of the Friths of Forth and Tay, upon the eastern coast
of Scotland.” His Lordship had no sooner made the motion, than Lord
Henry Petty, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated, that he could
not answer for the support which this bill might ultimately meet with
from his Majesty’s Ministers;--that he spoke not from his own knowledge
of the subject, but merely from the views of the First Lord of the
Admiralty, who had expressed his doubts as to the propriety of the
loan in the then low state of his Majesty’s Exchequer, and the great
demands which were made upon the country; but that he did not mean to
oppose the present motion, only, under these circumstances, he thought
it proper to state this much, in absence of the noble Lord alluded to.
Leave having been given to bring in the bill, it was accordingly read a
first time.

[Sidenote: Second Reading of the Bill.]

On the second reading of the bill, the Lord Advocate introduced the
business with his usual display of eloquence, pointing out, in forcible
language, the horrors of a sunken rock so situate as the Bell Rock; and
concluded, by observing, that, as there could be but one opinion as
to the important object of this bill, he hoped, through the exertions
of the Light-house Board, to which he had the honour to belong, and
of other public functionaries, appointed for similar purposes, on
other parts of the coast, the day would come, when every sunken rock
and dangerous shoal, of similar importance to navigation, would be
distinctly pointed out to the mariner. The only reply made was by Mr
Spencer Perceval, who remarked, that he had no intention to oppose
the present measure, the importance of which he would not call in
question, but he must agree with those who thought that this was not a
favourable time for granting loans of public money. The bill was then
read a second time. In its progress through the House of Commons, it
was detained, from various causes, beyond the regular time. The Lord
Advocate had also unfortunately been taken ill; but in his absence, Sir
John Sinclair attended to the bill in the Committee, of which he was
chairman, and brought up the following Report:

  _Report of the Committee of the House of Commons._

  [Sidenote: Report of the Committee.]

  [Sidenote: Report brought up by Sir John Sinclair.]

  “The Committee, to whom was referred the Petition of the
  Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, and to report the matter
  to the House, as it shall appear to them,

  “Proceeded to examine Mr ROBERT STEVENSON, Civil Engineer, who, in
  his capacity of engineer for the Northern Light-houses, has erected
  six light-houses in the northern parts of the kingdom; and has
  made the erection of a light-house on the Cape or Bell Rock, more
  particularly his study,--especially, since the loss of about 70 sail
  of vessels, in a storm which happened upon the coast in the month of
  December 1799, by which numerous ships were driven from their course
  along the shore, and from their moorings in Yarmouth Roads, and other
  places of anchorage, southward of the Frith of Forth, and wrecked
  upon the eastern coast of Scotland, as referred to in the report made
  to this House, in the month of July 1803; the particulars of which he
  also confirms: That the Bell Rock is most dangerously situate, lying
  in a track which is annually navigated by no less than about 700,000
  tons of shipping, besides his Majesty’s ships of war, and revenue
  cutters: That its place is not easily ascertained, even by persons
  well acquainted with the coast, being covered by the sea about half
  flood, and the land-marks, by which its position is ascertained,
  being from 12 to 20 miles distant from the site of danger.

  “That from the inquiries he made at the time the York Man-of-war was
  lost, and pieces of her wreck having drifted ashore upon the opposite
  and neighbouring coast; and from an attentive consideration of the
  circumstances which attend the wreck of ships of such dimensions,
  he thinks it probable that the York must have struck upon the Bell
  Rock, drifted off, and afterwards sunk in deep water: That he is well
  acquainted with the situation of the Bell Rock, the yacht belonging
  to the light-house service, having, on one occasion, been anchored
  near it for five days, when he had an opportunity of landing upon it
  every tide: That he has visited most of the light-houses on the coast
  of England, Wales and Ireland, particularly those of the Eddystone,
  the Smalls, and the Kilwarlin or South Rock, which are built in
  situations somewhat similar to the Bell Rock: That at high-water,
  there is a greater depth on the Bell Rock than on any of these, by
  several feet: and he is therefore fully of opinion, that a building
  of stone, upon the principles of the Eddystone light-house, is alone
  suitable to the peculiar circumstances which attend this rock, and
  has reported his opinion accordingly to the Commissioners of the
  Northern Light-houses as far back as the year 1800; and having given
  the subject all the attention in his power, he has estimated the
  expence of erecting a building of stone upon it at the sum of L.
  42,685, 8s.

  “Your Committee likewise examined Mr JOHN RENNIE, civil-engineer,
  who, since the report made to this House in 1803, has visited
  the Bell Rock, who confirms the particulars in said report, and
  entertains no doubt of the practicability of erecting a light-house
  on that rock, is decidedly of opinion that a stone light-house
  will be the most durable and effectual, and indeed the only kind
  of building that is suited to this situation: That he has computed
  the expence of such a building, and, after making every allowance
  for contingencies, from his own experience of works in the sea, it
  appears to him that the estimate or expence will amount to L. 41,843,

  “It appears further to your Committee, from the accounts presented to
  this House by the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, in the
  years 1803, 1804, and 1805, that, on an average of these years, the
  surplus duties arising from the light-houses already erected by that
  Board, is L. 512:18:8. But your Committee find, that the average of
  general expenditure for these years has been higher than usual, owing
  to the erection of additional light-houses, viz. one on the Island
  of Inchkeith, in the Frith of Forth, and a revolving light upon the
  Start-Point of Sanday, one of the Orkney Islands, on which there was
  expended, during these years, about L. 4800, causing an annual extra
  charge of L. 1600 upon the duties collected in that period.

  “That, agreeably to the act of the 26th of the King, the said
  Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses have invested in the
  public Funds L. 28,000, affording dividends to the annual amount of
  L. 840.

  “That the duties that would be collected for the Bell Rock light, as
  appears by the returns from the customs presented to this House, and
  the resolution they have come to, would amount to about L. 2617: 3:
  9 annually.

  “That if the sum of L. 25,000 was to be advanced, by way of loan,
  from the consolidated fund, this, with the L. 28,000 now invested
  in the 3 _per cent._ Consolidated Annuities, would enable the
  Commissioners to erect the proposed light-house, and that there would
  remain a sufficient fund for the payment of interest of the loan from
  the surplus duties, as well as for the repayment of the principal, in
  a reasonable time.”

[Sidenote: Bill meets with some opposition at the third reading.]

The bill passed through the Committee of the Commons without any
impediment, but, on the third reading, it met with some opposition in
the House, upon new and unexpected grounds. One of the members for
Liverpool opposed the loan, on the ground that that Port maintained its
own sea-lights, and that the trade of the Frith of Forth ought also to
support its lights. But this objection was withdrawn, upon explaining
the position of the Bell Rock relatively to the Frith of Forth, and the
difficulty and expence of the proposed building, and shewing that the
collection of its Light-duties were proportionally as much confined to
the Frith of Forth, though extending between Berwick to the south, and
Peterhead to the north, as the more limited sphere of the Liverpool
lights were to the ports and havens in the Mersey. This difficulty was
no sooner got over, than the bill was likely to have met with another
check, from a clause which had been introduced, exempting this work
from the duty on stone carried coastwise, which, it was calculated,
would have amounted to between L. 2000 and L. 3000. This clause was
withdrawn, by the advice of Mr Vansittart, Secretary to the Treasury,
as being improper to appear in the shape of an enactment.

[Sidenote: Is Passed, and receives the Royal Assent.]

The bill then went through the third reading, and passed the House
Commons on the 16th of July. It was afterwards brought up to the
House of Lords, where it went through the Committee, and the several
readings; and having received the Royal Assent, became an act of the

The writer immediately returned to Scotland, with feelings of the
greatest satisfaction, on the accomplishment of a measure which, in
its tendency, was so eminently calculated to meet the wishes of the
mercantile interest of the country. But, along with these sensations,
there was also a degree of responsibility, and a crowd of difficulties,
which still presented themselves, in the execution of a work of so
peculiar a nature. Hitherto this undertaking had been viewed only at a
distance, clogged with many previous obstacles, which, by the passing
of the bill, were removed; and the whole measure now pressed fully upon
his mind.



[Sidenote: Floating-Light.]

The Act of Parliament, by which the Commissioners of the Northern
Light-houses were empowered to undertake the works at the Bell Rock,
having only received the Royal Assent late in the month of July 1806,
there was not sufficient time for making the necessary preparations
for their commencement that season. But the writer, on his return from
London, received instructions from the Board to have such preliminary
steps in view, as would enable him to begin the operations early in the
summer of 1807. This being arranged, he sailed in the month of August,
on his annual voyage, for the inspection of the Northern Light-houses.

[Sidenote: Act provides for a Floating-Light and Beacon.]

The bill for the Bell Rock Light-house was drawn up, under a strong
impression of the uncertainty which must attend the whole of the
works at the rock, and doubts were accordingly entertained as to
the estimated expence being adequate to the accomplishment of the
undertaking. A clause had, therefore, been introduced, authorising
the collection of the light-house duties of one penny halfpenny _per_
register ton from British vessels, and threepence _per_ ton from
foreigners, “immediately upon mooring or anchoring a ship or vessel,
and exhibiting a floating or other light, at or near the Bell Rock,”
and “half the amount of the said duties respectively,” on the erection
of “a proper beacon or distinguishing mark or object on the said Bell
Rock.” The measures first in order were, consequently, to fit out
and moor a floating-light and to erect a beacon on the Bell Rock,
that shipping might derive immediate advantage from them, while the
light-house was in progress; and also that the funds of the Board
might, as early as possible, have the benefit of the additional duties.
We therefore proceed to give an account of the outfit and mooring of
this vessel, and of the erection of the beacon-house, without attending
strictly to the chronological order of the works.

The writer had frequent communications with the late Captain Huddart,
of the Trinity-House of London, and other nautical men, both as to the
form of a vessel, and the moorings proper for a situation like the Bell
Rock: here the depth of water could not be less than from seventeen to
nineteen fathoms at the lowest tide, whereas, on the English coast,
the depth where floating lights are, in general, moored, does not
exceed seven or eight fathoms, and their moorings, consequently, much
more easily managed. The writer had also visited the floating light
of the Nore, at the entrance of the river Thames; and he was induced,
upon the whole, to conclude, that a vessel built after the manner and
construction of the Dutch fishing-doggers, would be the most suitable
for riding at anchor in the open sea, and that her moorings should
consist partly of an iron chain, and partly of a hempen cable.

_Pharos Floating Light-ship._

[Sidenote: Fishing Dogger purchased, and named The Pharos.]

In the year 1806, a great number of vessels were taken by our cruizers,
upon the coasts of Holland, Denmark, and Norway, many of which were
carried into Leith to be sold. One of these, a Prussian, which happened
to be captured while fishing on the Dogger Bank, was purchased for the
Bell Rock service. This vessel was of a flat construction, rounded off
both at the stem and stern, agreeably to the ordinary make of these
doggers. She was called the Tonge Gerrit, but was afterwards named
the Pharos, in allusion to the celebrated Pharos of Alexandria. She
measured 67 feet in length, and 16 feet in breadth, upon deck, 8 feet
depth of hold, and was 82 tons register. It was, however, only the form
of her hull that fitted her for our purpose; her rigging and whole
equipment having to undergo a complete alteration, for the light-house

[Sidenote: Fitted out under the direction of the Trinity-House, Leith.]

The establishing of a floating-light being quite new upon the coast
of Scotland, and that every thing connected with this vessel might be
done upon the best principles, the writer procured the assistance of Mr
Joseph Webb, an experienced pilot of Yarmouth, who had attended the
fitting up of one of the floating lights stationed off that coast, and
who had been recommended by the Trinity Board of London as a person of
skill, for instructing the master of the vessel in all the details of
the service. Several of the Captains of the Trinity-House of Leith also
obligingly formed themselves into a committee, and from time to time
assisted in giving directions as to the necessary repairs and outfit of
the vessel.

Agreeably to this arrangement, the Prussian dogger was put into one of
the graving docks of Leith, in the month of March 1807, and underwent
a complete examination, when it was found that she required a few
new timbers in her bottom; and that to strengthen her upper works,
several new beams and additional knees were necessary. Her bottom had
to be new trenailed and caulked, and then sheathed with fir plank. Her
ceiling, or interior lining, was also caulked, and made water-tight,
in case of accident to the outer plank, in the event of her breaking
adrift, and getting upon the Bell Rock. Her deck-plank and upper works
were also entirely renewed; and from stem to stern, under deck, her
accommodations were laid out anew. She was furnished with three masts,
of a length calculated to enable her to ride with as little incumbrance
as possible in a storm; the main-mast being only thirty-five feet above
the deck, while the fore and mizen masts were each twenty-five feet.
The rigging was also made of light cordage, and she was provided with
storm-sails, to be used in the event of her breaking adrift in bad
weather. By the time, therefore, that this vessel came from the hands
of the carpenters, very little of the old work remained, as nothing
had been omitted, which could, in any manner, add to her strength and
durability. She was fitted up with births for about thirty artificers,
besides her ordinary crew and officers, amounting to thirteen in
number, independently of her hold for oil and stores of various
descriptions. In the distribution of these, the fore-peak of the ship
was allotted for the sailors; the waist for the artificers; and galley
appropriated to the cooking of the victuals. Next to this, a large
cabin was set off for the master, mate, and principal light-keeper, and
for the foremen of the works; while the after or stern part of the ship
formed a cabin for the use of the engineer.

[Sidenote: Peculiar construction of Lanterns.]

The Pharos was furnished with a large copper lantern for each mast,
containing ten lamps, with small silver-plated reflectors, ranged upon
a chandelier, moveable at pleasure, in a horizontal direction, for the
conveniency of turning the lamps to trim them and clean the reflectors.
To make the vessel ride as easily as possible, in a situation so
exposed, the lanterns were made of a peculiar construction, so as
to screw together upon the masts, in two pieces, longitudinally, as
represented in Plate X., Figs. 1, 2, and 3. By these means, the light
could be seen in every direction, without the necessity of suspending
them in the usual manner from yards, or other weighty apparatus, which
tend not only to obscure the light, but also to make the ship ride
heavily in bad weather.

[Sidenote: Construction of Moorings.]

The moorings of the floating light consisted of a large mushroom
anchor, of cast-iron, weighing about a ton and a half, and made with a
shank and head, resembling in form, as nearly as may be, the vegetable
from which it takes its name. This anchor was made with a malleable
iron shank, but latterly these mushroom anchors were made wholly of
cast-iron, as represented in Plate X., Fig. 4. A chain of fifty fathoms
in length, was attached to the anchor, made of inch and half bars of
iron, to which a hempen cable, of 14 inches in circumference, and 120
fathoms in length, was connected, to be veered out according to the
state of the weather.

[Sidenote: Pharos is towed to the Roads.]

The Pharos being ready for sea, was, on the 9th of July, towed out
of the harbour of Leith to the Roads, by the Light-house Yacht, a
cutter-rigged vessel attached to the general service of the Northern
Light-houses. The Yacht had the Pharos’ moorings on board, and was
appointed to conduct her to the Bell Rock, and lay them down. A curious
enough circumstance took place, when the crew of the floating-light was
mustered, before leaving the harbour: two of the seamen having taken
alarm, at the destination of the ship, and the nature of the service
in which they were about to embark, suddenly turned about, and, to the
great surprise of their comrades, ran with the utmost precipitation
from the ship; to which they never again returned. Their places,
however, were supplied with others, without much inconvenience.

[Sidenote: Committee of the Trinity-House go to the Bell Rock.]

As the gentlemen of the Trinity-house of Leith, had all along taken
a particular interest in the fitting out of the floating-light, the
Commissioners requested their assistance in fixing upon the precise
spot in which she should be moored, for the direction of ships passing
the Bell Rock. This they readily complied with, suggesting, at the
same time, that some of the shipmasters of Arbroath, who were locally
acquainted with the coast, should also be invited to give their
opinion and advice upon this point. A few of the most experienced
ship-masters and merchants of Arbroath were accordingly invited to
come off, when the floating light should make her appearance in their
neighbourhood. Matters being thus arranged, the writer went on board of
the Light-house Yacht, on the 10th, accompanied by Mr Thomas Grindlay,
master of the Trinity-house of Leith, with Mr John Hay, and Mr Thomas
Ritchie, Assistant-Masters.

[Sidenote: Pharos sails for the Bell Rock.]

At 8 A. M. the Pharos got under way in Leith Roads, and sailed for her
station at the Bell Rock, under the command of Mr George Sinclair,
with a crew of twelve in number. But as she sailed very heavily, the
Yacht, with her party, did not follow till noon, and about 2 P. M. came
up with her, and took her in tow, when it came to blow fresh breezes
from SW. At 6, both vessels anchored for the night on the eastern
side of the Isle of May, as, by continuing our course, we should have
reached the Bell Rock under night, which was then an object of terror
to every seaman, and must have been attended with danger, from its then
undistinguished state.

[Sidenote: Committee from Arbroath join the party.]

While the Yacht and Pharos lay at anchor at the Isle of May, Mr David
Balfour, Mr Andrew Duncan, Mr David Cargill, Mr John Fleming, and Mr
William Kidd, as a Committee from Arbroath, having hired a vessel,
left that place in the morning, and hailed the Yacht, soon after she
came to an anchor, when some of their party joined us on board. As the
accommodations of the floating light were very ample, having only the
ship’s company on board, it was proposed that the whole party should
meet in her, and pass the night; but she rolled from side to side, in
so extraordinary a manner, that even the most sea-hardy of our number
were content to remain in a state of separation, rather than accept of
the best birth in the floating light. It was humorously observed of
this vessel, “that she was in some danger of making a round turn, and
appearing with her keel uppermost.” Another said, “she would roll out
her masts;” and a third that she would “even turn a halfpenny, if laid
upon deck.” These, and such like remarks, afforded much pleasantry on
board of the Light-house Yacht, and were suggested by the manner in
which the Pharos rolled and _yawed_ about, when compared with the more
easy motion of the other vessels. Being then in light ballast trim
to fit her for riding in bad weather, and very flat in the bottom,
the smallest wave set her in motion, when at anchor; and when under
way, she was little better, for she answered the helm with so much
difficulty, that a large decked Praam-boat, which she had in tow, was
upset in the passage from Leith. The writer is the more particular
on this subject, as the rolling motion of the floating-light became
proverbial in the Light-house service, and continued a source of much
trouble and uneasiness to all concerned, especially while she was used
as a tender or store-ship for the works.

[Sidenote: Pharos anchors in a temporary birth.]

Early in the morning of the 11th, the vessels left their anchorage
at the Isle of May, and sailed for the Bell Rock; but on reaching
it, in the course of the forenoon, the wind came to the eastward,
accompanied with thick hazy weather, and drizzling showers of rain,
which so completely hid the distant landmarks from view, that there
was a necessity for ordering the Pharos to come to an anchor with
her best bower, on the smoothest spot of ground that could be found,
until a change of weather should admit of her being moored in a proper
manner. The weather afterwards became so foggy that every object was
lost sight of. The vessel which had brought our friends from Arbroath,
put into that harbour in the course of the evening, but the Light-house
Yacht kept at sea till the morning of the 12th, when it came to blow
so fresh, that she also went into that harbour, to wait a change of
weather. On the 14th, it improved, and the Yacht again sailed for the
Bell Rock. On returning to the floating light, we were happy to find
that all was well on board, though Mr Sinclair and Mr Webb, the pilot,
complained that their anchorage was not very good, as the bottom was
hard, and the soundings or particles brought up with the lead exhibited
sharp coral and coarse gravel. After plying about for some time with
the Yacht, and sounding in every direction, a place was at length
fixed upon, about a mile and a half in a north-westerly direction
from the Bell Rock. The Yacht, as before noticed, having on board the
floating-light’s moorings, anchored on the spot most approved of for
laying them down.

[Sidenote: In laying down her Moorings, the whole chain goes overboard.]

Some arrangements having been made among the nautical gentlemen, as
to the precise mode of going about this operation, it was resolved
to suspend the mushroom anchor over the gunwale of the Yacht, and
before letting it into the water, to bring the greater part of the
chain upon deck, taking the precaution to make the further end of
it fast to the lower part of the mast, in the vessel’s hold, with a
very strong and perfectly new stopper, or piece of rope, measuring 7
inches in circumference. It was not doubted but that this strong rope
would have held the chain against any strain that might have been
brought upon it, in the process of letting down the moorings. But the
mushroom-anchor was no sooner let go from the ship’s tackle, than the
part of the chain which had been coiled upon deck went overboard with
such velocity, that it communicated a similar impetus to the remainder
of the chain in the hold, and the strain coming ultimately upon the
stopper, snapped through the several parts which fixed the end of the
chain to the mast, and, consequently, the whole went to the bottom with
the mushroom-anchor.

[Sidenote: Moorings recovered with great difficulty.]

This untoward circumstance greatly disconcerted and embarrassed the
operations of mooring the floating-light, as the chain had now to be
fished or hooked at the bottom, and raised from the depth of seventeen
fathoms. After many trials, we at length succeeded in hooking it with a
grappling-iron, but as it happened to lay hold only a few fathoms from
the anchor, it required all the purchase-blocks and tackle of the Yacht
and Pharos to raise it: for the weight, including the anchor, and so
large a portion of the chain, could not be less than about three tons.
This operation was begun at mid-day, and, although the united force of
the crews of both ships was fully mustered, it was not till two o’clock
on the following morning,--being a period of fourteen hours,--that the
moorings were got up, and the Pharos brought alongside of the Yacht,
to receive the hempen cable, which was made fast to the _clinch_,
or great ring, connected with the chain moorings. The weather was
fortunately the most favourable that could have been desired for this
operation; and it is impossible for the writer to describe the anxiety
and exertions of all on board in getting this matter adjusted. Were he
to judge by his own feelings, he has no doubt that all on board would
join in saying, that it was one of the most painfully laborious days
they had spent in the course of their existence. For the space of about
twenty hours, the crews of both ships had never been off deck, and
during twelve of these the hand-spike, or the tackle, had not been five
minutes together out of their hands, as the refreshments which they got
were served up at the windlass. The same observations are literally
applicable to the gentlemen of the quarter-deck, who divided their
attention severally to the different tackles and purchases employed in
raising the moorings.

The perplexing and tedious business of mooring the floating-light
having been happily got over, it was judged necessary to see how she
would ride at anchor for a time, before advertising the light to the
public. The writer accordingly returned on board in the course of
three weeks, and examined the moorings, which were found in good order.
The anchorage ground was also considered of a very proper description,
in so far as observations, made during a tract of favourable weather,
had afforded the means of judging. The vessel lay in an excellent
position for the direction of shipping; and being at this time only
about a mile from the Bell Rock, her situation as a hulk or store-ship
for the light-house operations, was as favourable as the relative
position of the rock would admit. In this state of things, notice to
the following effect was given in the newspapers, for the direction of
mariners, and along with a copy of the notice, a chart or sketch of the
opposite coast was sent to the different Custom-houses.

[Sidenote: Description of the Floating-Light.]

“In virtue of an Act of Parliament of the 46th year of Geo. III. chap.
132. authorising the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses to
erect a Light-house on the Bell Rock, to place a floating light there,
and to collect duties thereupon,--notice is hereby given, that a
vessel, fitted out for a floating-light, is now moored off the Cape or
Bell Rock, situate at the entrance of the Friths of Forth and Tay, in
North Lat. 56° 27´, and West Long. 2° 27´.

“The moorings of the floating-light consist of a mushroom anchor,
and chain, laid down in 17 fathoms water, the Bell Rock bearing, by
compass, E. S. E. distant one mile; the Red Head, N. by E. ¼ E.
distant thirteen miles; Fifeness, S. W. ¾ W. distant twelve miles;
and the island of May S. W. ¾ S. distant seventeen miles.

“A light from oil, with reflectors, will be exhibited upon the night of
the 15th day of September 1807, and thereafter every night, from the
going away of day-light in the evening, till the return of day-light
in the morning. To distinguish this light from the double lights at
the entrance of the Frith of Tay, and on the Scares off the coast of
Northumberland, and also from the single light on the Island of May,
three distinct lights will be shown from the Bell Rock Floating-light,
by a lantern hoisted to the top of each mast, which will be visible
from every point of the compass, at the distance of from two to three
leagues; the lanterns on the fore and mizen masts being elevated 23
feet, and that on the main mast 31 feet, above the vessel’s deck; the
lights, when seen from either side of the ship, have the appearance
of a triangle, but if seen end-on, they appear as two lights, the one
above the other.

“This vessel is called the Pharos; she was formerly a fishing dogger,
and appears like a ship under jury masts; during the day-time, a blue
flag, with a light-house in the field, will be displayed from the
main-mast; and, in thick and foggy weather, a bell will be tolled,
night and day, on board, with an interval of about one minute.

“Although this vessel has been fitted out in the completest manner,
and every attention paid to mooring her properly, yet, as all
floating-lights are liable to break adrift in tempestuous weather,
mariners are requested not to neglect their landmarks, and to run with
caution for the floating-light.

“The Pharos being also intended to answer the purpose of a store-ship,
while the light-house is building on the Bell Rock, it may be found
necessary, in the course of the works, to alter her present station, of
which due notice will be given.”

_Commencement of the Operations on the Bell Rock._

[Sidenote: 1807, August.]

As the commencement of works of masonry, requiring stones of large
dimensions, is unavoidably tedious, especially in the collecting of
materials, we shall at present only notice, that the Light-house
Board having resolved on the use partly of granite and partly of
sandstone, for the erection at the Bell Rock, measures were duly taken
for procuring a supply of the former from the quarry of Rubeslaw
near Aberdeen, and of the latter from Mylnefield near Dundee. But,
instead of following out this part of our subject in its order, we
shall first proceed to a detail of the operations _afloat_, as they
may be termed, or of the works upon the rock itself, during the season
of 1807,--particularly of the erection of the principal beams of the
beacon-house, or temporary residence for the artificers on the rock,
and of the progress made in the preparation of the foundation or site
of the main building.

[Sidenote: Sloop Smeaton.]

We therefore observe, that a vessel had been built at Leith, in the
course of the spring, expressly for the Bell Rock service, to be
employed as a tender for the floating-light, and as a stone-lighter for
the use of the work. This vessel was launched in the month of June; she
measured 40 tons register, was rigged as a sloop, and fitted in all
respects in the strongest manner, to adapt her as much as possible for
the perilous service in which she was to be employed. She was called
The Smeaton,--a name which the writer had great pleasure in suggesting,
as a mark of respect for the memory of the celebrated engineer of
the Eddystone Light-house, whose narrative was to become a kind of
text-book for the Bell Rock operations. The Smeaton was ready for sea
in the beginning of August, and reached Arbroath upon the 5th day of
that month. Arbroath being the most contiguous harbour to the Bell
Rock, naturally pointed out itself as the proper place for establishing
the works, and preparing the materials, before shipping them for the
rock. The writer had, accordingly, been here for some time, making the
necessary preparations; and when the Smeaton arrived, he found himself
in a condition for commencing the operations, in a systematic manner,
upon the rock itself.

[Sidenote: The Positions of the Light-House and Beacon fixed on.]

The floating-light rode in safety at her moorings, and had hitherto
been supplied with necessaries by the Yacht belonging to the general
service of the Light-house Board. In this vessel, occasional trips
had also been made to the rock; but on the arrival of the Smeaton,
the Yacht sailed on a voyage, with stores for the use of the Northern
Light-houses. In these preliminary trips, the writer had fixed, in his
own mind, upon the parts of the rock most favourable for the position
of the light-house, and on the south-west of it, he chose the site of
the beacon-house, that it might be sheltered, in some measure, from the
breach of the north-east sea; and by placing them contiguous, or about
twenty-five feet apart, they admitted of a ready communication with
each other in the more advanced stages of the work.

[Sidenote: 1807, 7th August.]

[Sidenote: First trip of the Artificers to the Bell Rock.]

The Smeaton having got on board necessaries for the floating-light, and
three sets of chain-moorings with mushroom-anchors, and large floating
buoys, the writer sailed on another preliminary visit to the Bell Rock
on the 7th day of August, carrying with him Mr Peter Logan, foreman
builder, and five artificers, selected, on this occasion, from their
having been somewhat accustomed to the sea; the writer being aware
of the distressing trial which the floating-light would necessarily
inflict upon landsmen, from her rolling motion. Here he remained till
the 10th, and as the weather was favourable, a landing was effected
daily, when the workmen were employed in cutting the large sea-weed
from the sites of the light-house and beacon, which were respectively
traced with pick-axes upon the rock. In the mean time, the crew of the
Smeaton was employed in laying down the several sets of moorings within
about half a mile of the rock, for the conveniency of vessels riding at
the buoys by a hawser, instead of letting go an anchor, which, in that
situation, could seldom have been purchased or lifted again, as it
would constantly have hooked the rocky bottom, a disadvantage to which
the mushroom anchor, from its figure and construction, is not liable,
as will be understood by examining the diagram representing it in Plate
X. Fig. 4. The artificers having fortunately experienced moderate
weather, returned to the work-yard at Arbroath, with a good report of
their treatment afloat; when their comrades ashore began to feel some
anxiety to see a place of which they had heard so much, and to change
the constant operation with the iron and mallet in the process of
hewing, for an occasional tide’s work on the rock, which they figured
to themselves as a state of comparative ease and comfort.

[Sidenote: Rate of Artificers’ wages fixed on.]

In answer to some advances which had been made on this subject by
the artificers, the foreman was instructed to select fourteen of the
stone-cutters, who had been accustomed to the use of the pick-axe,
and to boring or drilling holes with a jumper, after the manner of
quarriers, to go off to the rock in the course of a few days. When
these men, however, came to be spoken to more closely, some of them
were disposed to hold their services rather at a high rate, demanding
two guineas per week if they were to find their own provisions, and L.
1, 10s. if provisions were found to them. But they were informed, that
the nominal rate of wages was to be L. 1 per week, being the same for
those employed at the rock, as for those in the work-yard at Arbroath.
The artificers at the rock were, in addition, to have their provisions,
with certain premiums, to be arranged in the further progress of the
work, particularly for each tide’s work on Sunday, which was to be
accounted and paid for as a day’s work. After a good deal of trouble,
two or three of the men acceded to the foreman’s proposals, others
refused to engage themselves, excepting at the highest rate; while
a third party objected only to working on Sunday. In any agreement
to be entered into, it was held as an express condition, “That every
man who embarked for the work at the Bell Rock, should remain for the
space of four weeks, without returning ashore.” Those chiefly wanted
at this time were masons from Aberdeen, who were accustomed to the
use of the boring-iron and pick, in working granite. Being engaged
only from week to week in the work-yard, they were desirous of knowing
the reason for remaining a month at the rock; when they were informed
that it was not unlikely some of them might suffer from sea sickness,
and wearying of confinement on board of ship, might wish to return
ashore, which would be attended with much inconveniency to the work,
by too frequent a change of hands. They were further told, that, by
continuing for one month afloat, they would, in the course of that
time, become so sea-hardy as probably to feel no desire to return till
the end of the working-season, which, at this advanced period, could
not last for many weeks. This condition was considered of importance in
the commencement of the work, and it was the more readily agreed to, as
the writer assured them that he should himself remain with them during
that period. As one condition, however, had been made to the Aberdeen
masons, they felt no hesitation in proposing another on their own part,
and they accordingly handed the following offer of service, addressed
to the foreman, dated 12th August 1807, which, from the tenor of the
document, we shall here insert.

[Sidenote: Letter from the Aberdeen Masons.]

“In consequence of our communing with one another concerning the Bell
Rock, we hereby agree to stay with you from the above date, till August
1808, being twelve months certain, and to take our turn at whatever
work may start up concerning the Bell Rock business,--only, it is to
be understood, that the rest of the masons must take turn and turn
about with us: the terms of our agreement to be 20s. per week, summer
and winter, wet and dry, with free quarters ashore, and likewise
our victuals when we are at the rock.--As for the Sunday’s work and
premiums, we leave that to the honour of our employers. (Signed)
William Bonyman, John Bruce, John Cruickshanks, Alexander Sherif, John
Bonyman, Alexander Davidson, James Macdonald, Robert Ferres, John
Mason, William Chalmers.”

Every thing being arranged for sailing to the rock on Saturday the
15th, the vessel might have proceeded on the Sunday; but understanding
that this would not be so agreeable to the artificers it was deferred
until Monday. Here we cannot help observing, that the men allotted
for the operations at the rock seemed to enter upon the undertaking
with a degree of consideration, which fully marked their opinion as
to the hazardous nature of the undertaking on which they were about
to enter. They went in a body to church on Sunday, and whether it
was in the ordinary course, or designed for the occasion, the writer
is not certain, but the service was, in many respects, suitable to
their circumstances. Indeed, the Reverend Mr GLEG, the minister of the
parish, was in the constant habit of enquiring after the success and
safety of the works. Throughout this day the weather was remarkably
serene, and the best hopes were entertained of a favourable tract of
weather, which the inhabitants of Arbroath were disposed to consider as
an omen of good fortune.

[Sidenote: Monday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: Twenty-four Artificers embark for the Rock.]

The tide happening to fall late in the evening of Monday the 17th, the
party, counting twenty-four in number, embarked on board of the Smeaton
about 10 o’clock P. M., and sailed from Arbroath with a gentle breeze
at west. Our ship’s colours having been flying all day in compliment
to the commencement of the work, the other vessels in the harbour also
saluted, which made a very gay appearance. A number of the friends and
acquaintances of those on board having been thus collected, the piers,
though at a late hour, were perfectly crowded, and just as the Smeaton
cleared the harbour, all on board united in giving three hearty cheers,
which were returned by those on shore in such good earnest, that,
in the still of the evening, the sound must have been heard in all
parts of the town, re-echoing from the walls and lofty turrets of the
venerable Abbey of Aberbrothwick. The writer felt much satisfaction at
the manner of this parting scene; though he must own, that the present
rejoicing was, on his part, mingled with occasional reflections upon
the responsibility of his situation, which extended to the safety of
all who should be engaged in this perilous work. With such sensations
he retired to his cabin; but as the artificers were rather inclined
to move about the deck than to remain in their confined births below,
his repose was transient, and the vessel being small, every motion was
necessarily heard. Some who were musically inclined occasionally sung;
but he listened with peculiar pleasure to the sailor at the helm, who
hummed over Dibdin’s characteristic air,

    “They say there’s a Providence sits up aloft,
    To keep watch for the life of Poor Jack.”

_Erection of the Beacon-House._

The weather had been very gentle all night, and, about four in the
morning of the 18th, the Smeaton anchored on the spot where it was
intended to lay down an additional set of chain-moorings which she
had on board. Agreeably to an arranged plan of operations, all hands
were called at 5 o’clock, A. M., just as the highest part of the Bell
Rock began to shew its sable head among the light breakers, which
occasionally whitened with the foaming sea. The two boats belonging to
the floating-light attended the Smeaton, to carry the artificers to the
rock, as her boat could only accommodate about six or eight sitters.
Every one was more eager than his neighbour to leap into the boats, and
it required a good deal of management on the part of the coxswains,
to get men unaccustomed to a boat, to take their places for rowing and
at the same time trimming her properly. The landing-master and foreman
went into one boat, while the writer took charge of another, and
steered it to and from the rock. This became the more necessary in the
early stages of the work, as places could not be spared for more than
two, or at most three seamen to each boat, who were always stationed,
one at the bow, to use the boat-hook in fending or pushing off, and the
other at the aftermost oar, to give the proper time in rowing, while
the middle oars were double banked, and rowed by the artificers.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 18th.]

[Sidenote: Commence work at 6 A. M.]

As the weather was extremely fine, with light airs of wind from the
east, we landed without difficulty upon the central part of the rock
at half-past 5, but the water had not yet sufficiently left it for
commencing the work. This interval, however, did not pass unoccupied;
the first and last of all the principal operations at the Bell Rock
were accompanied by three hearty cheers from all hands, and, on
occasions like the present, the steward of the ship attended, when
each man was regaled with a glass of rum. As the water left the rock
about 6, some began to bore the holes for the great bats or holdfasts,
for fixing the beams of the Beacon-house, while the smith was fully
attended in laying out the site of his forge, upon a somewhat sheltered
spot of the rock, which also recommended itself from the vicinity
of a pool of water for tempering his irons. These preliminary steps
occupied about an hour, and as nothing further could be done during
this tide towards fixing the forge, the workmen gratified their
curiosity, by roaming about the rock, which they investigated with
great eagerness till the tide overflowed it. Those who had been sick
picked dulse (_Fucus palmatus_), which they ate with much seeming
appetite; others were more intent upon collecting limpets for bait,
to enjoy the amusement of fishing when they returned on board of the
vessel. Indeed none came away empty handed, as every thing found
upon the Bell Rock was considered valuable, being connected with
some interesting association. Several coins, and numerous bits of
shipwrecked iron were picked up, of almost every description; and, in
particular, a marking-iron lettered JAMES,--a circumstance of which it
was thought proper to give notice to the public, as it might lead to
the knowledge of some unfortunate shipwreck, perhaps unheard of till
this simple occurrence led to the discovery. When the rock began to be
overflowed, the landing-master arranged the crews of the respective
boats, appointing twelve persons to each. According to a rule, which
the writer had laid down to himself, he was always the last person who
left the rock. Another maxim was, to allow the landing-master’s boat
to proceed about twice or three times her own length a-head of the
other boats, that in case of accident he might be ready to assist; and
when he had thus cleared the rock, he waited till the others got out of
the respective creeks; after which they proceeded in company. Upon the
present occasion, the boats reached the tender about half-past 8, after
having been two hours upon the rock, and three hours absent from the

In a short time, the Bell Rock was laid completely under water, and
the weather being extremely fine, the sea was so smooth, that its
place could not be pointed out from the appearance of the surface,--a
circumstance which sufficiently demonstrates the dangerous nature of
this rock, even during the day, and in the smoothest and calmest state
of the sea. During the interval between the morning and the evening
tides, the artificers were variously employed in fishing and reading,
others were busy in drying and adjusting their wet clothes, and one or
two amused their companions with the violin and German-flute.

[Sidenote: Method of fixing iron-bats into the Rock.]

About 7 in the evening the signal bell for landing on the rock was
again rung, when every man was at his quarters. In this service
it was thought more appropriate to use the bell than to _pipe_ to
quarters, as the use of this instrument is less known to the mechanic
than the sound of the bell. The landing, as in the morning, was at
the eastern harbour. During this tide, the sea-weed was pretty well
cleared from the site of the operations, and also from the tracks
leading to the different landing-places; for walking upon the rugged
surface of the Bell Rock, when covered with sea-weed, was found to
be extremely difficult, and even dangerous. Every hand that could
possibly be occupied, was now employed in assisting the smith to fit
up the apparatus for his forge. The frame-work of iron, forming the
hearth, was now got into its place; and the four legs which supported
it were let into holes, bored from six to twelve inches into the rock,
according to the inequalities of the site: and then firmly wedged,
first with wood, and then with iron, a method followed in all the
operations of batting at the Bell Rock, and found greatly preferable to
running in melted lead. The block of timber for supporting the anvil
was fixed in the same manner, on which the anvil was simply laid,
without any other fixture than the small stud, fitted as usual into
its seat, depending upon the gravity of the mass for preserving its
place against the effects of the sea. In this state things were left
on the rock at 9 P. M., when the boats returned to the tender, after
other two hours work, in the same order as formerly, perhaps as much
gratified with the success that attended the work of this day, as with
any other in the whole course of the operations. Although it could not
be said that the fatigues of this day had been great, yet all on board
retired early to rest. The sea being calm, and no movement on deck, it
was pretty generally remarked in the morning, that the bell awakened
the greater number on board from their first sleep; and, though this
observation was not altogether applicable to the writer himself, yet he
was not a little pleased to find, that thirty people could all at once
become so reconciled to a night’s quarters within a few hundred paces
of the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: Landing-master’s duty.]

It was a rule laid down and adhered to by the writer, throughout the
whole of the Bell Rock works, that, as far as possible, the charge
should be arranged into departments. It therefore fell to the officer
termed the _Landing-master_, who was also master of the Floating-light,
to take the responsibility of the safe and proper landing of the
artificers and materials upon the rock. With him, the writer generally
arranged the business of the following day; his crew watched the ebbing
of the water, and the appearance of the rock, and from the state of the
weather, he judged of the proper time for causing the signal bell to be
rung, when the boats were to leave the ship for the rock. It was also a
special injunction laid upon him to say, from the state of the weather,
when it was necessary for the boats to leave the rock and return to the

[Sidenote: Indications of the weather.]

Being extremely anxious at this time to get forward with fixing the
smith’s forge, on which the progress of the work at present depended,
the writer requested that he might be called at day-break to learn
the landing-master’s opinion of the weather, from the appearance of
the rising sun, a criterion by which experienced seamen can generally
judge pretty accurately of the state of the weather for the following
day. About 5 o’clock, on coming upon deck, the sun’s upper limb or disk
had just begun to appear, as if rising from the ocean; and in less
than a minute he was seen in the fullest splendour; but after a short
interval he was enveloped in a soft cloudy sky, which was considered
emblematical of fine weather. His rays had not yet sufficiently
dispelled the clouds which hid the land from view, and the Bell Rock
being still overflowed, the whole was one expanse of water. This scene
in itself was highly gratifying; and when the morning bell was tolled,
we were gratified with the happy forebodings of good weather, and the
expectation of having both a morning and an evening tide’s work on the

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 19th.]

The boats left the ship at a quarter before 7 this morning, and landed
upon the rock at 7. The water had gone off the rock sooner than was
expected, for, as yet, the seamen were but imperfectly acquainted with
its periodic appearance, and the landing-master being rather late with
his signal this morning, the artificers were enabled to proceed to work
without a moment’s delay. The boat which the writer steered happened to
be the last which approached the rock at this tide; and, in standing
up in the stern, while at some distance, to see how the leading boat
entered the creek, he was astonished to observe something in the form
of a human figure, in a reclining posture, upon one of the ledges of
the rock: he immediately steered the boat through a narrow entrance to
the eastern harbour, with a thousand unpleasant sensations in his mind.
He thought a vessel or boat must have been wrecked upon the rock during
the night; and it seemed probable that the rock might be strewed with
dead bodies, a spectacle which could not fail to deter the artificers
from returning so freely to their work. Even one individual found in
this situation, would naturally cast a damp upon their minds, and, at
all events, make them much more timid in their future operations. In
the midst of these reveries, the boat took the ground at an improper
landing place; but, without waiting to push her off, he leapt upon
the rock, and making his way hastily to the spot which had privately
given him alarm, he had the satisfaction to ascertain, that he had
only been deceived by the peculiar situation and aspect of the smith’s
anvil and block, which very completely represented the appearance of
a lifeless body upon the rock. The writer carefully suppressed his
feelings, the simple mention of which might have had a bad effect upon
the artificers, and his haste passed for an anxiety to examine the
apparatus of the smith’s forge, left in an unfinished state at the
evening tide.

[Sidenote: Dangerous situation in foggy weather.]

After an excellent tide’s work of three hours at the forge, and boring
the bat-holes for fixing the Beacon-house, we again took to our boats,
and left the rock at 10 o’clock, the one boat preceding and waiting
for the other till it cleared the rock, as formerly. In the course of
this morning’s work, two or three apparently distant peals of thunder
were heard, and the atmosphere suddenly became thick and foggy. But
as the Smeaton, our present tender, was moored at no great distance
from the rock, the crew on board continued blowing with a horn, and
occasionally fired a musket, so that the boats got to the ship without
difficulty. The occurrence of thick weather, however, became a serious
consideration, in looking forward to the necessary change of quarters
to the Pharos, distant about one mile from the rock, instead of a few
hundred yards, as in the case of the Smeaton.

[Sidenote: Artificers amuse themselves with fishing.]

The continuation of the thick and foggy weather was transient, being
what seamen term an easterly _hoar_, arising from the heat of the
weather, which disappeared soon after mid-day. The weather being clear
in the evening, the boats landed again at half-past 6 o’clock, when
the artificers were employed for two hours, as in the morning, and
returned again to the ship about a quarter past 8. The remainder of
the day-light was eagerly spent in catching fish, which were got, at
this time, in great abundance, both alongside of the vessel and in the
boats at a distance; and in the course of an hour about five dozen of
codlings were caught, which not only afforded an agreeable relaxation,
but afforded a plentiful dish of fish for the different messes on board.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: Complete the fixing of the smith’s forge.]

The wind this morning inclined from the north-east, and the sky had a
heavy and cloudy appearance, but the sea was smooth, though there was
an undulating motion on the surface, which indicated easterly winds,
and occasioned a slight surf upon the rock. But the boats found no
difficulty in landing at the western creek at half-past 7, and, after a
good tide’s work, left it again about a quarter from 11. In the evening
the artificers landed at half-past 7, and continued till half-past
8, having completed the fixing of the smith’s forge, his vice, and a
wooden board or bench, which were also batted to a ledge of the rock,
to the great joy of all, under a salute of three hearty cheers. From
an oversight on the part of the smith, who had neglected to bring his
tinder-box and matches from the vessel, the work was prevented from
being continued for at least an hour longer.

[Sidenote: Valuable services of the smith at the Bell Rock.]

[Sidenote: Much wanted at the Eddystone.]

It may here be proper to notice, that although a considerable
quantity of jumpers or boring-irons, picks, and other quarry-tools,
had been brought, in good order, for the use of the work; yet, from
the extent of work in preparing the foundations, together with the
hard and compact nature of the sandstone, of which the Bell Rock is
composed, the tools soon became blunt, and the work must have often
been completely at a stand, had it not been for the conveniency of
having a smith and his forge so near at hand. The writer doubts not
that his readers may be at a loss to account for the operation of the
bellows and other apparatus upon a sunken rock, and it may therefore
be necessary, in the accompanying description of the plates of this
work, to give some explanation of this _arcanum_ of Vulcan, on which
the work had so great a dependence. The smith’s shop, represented
in Plate XI. was of course in _open space_: the large bellows were
carried to and from the rock every tide, for the serviceable condition
of which, together with the tinder-box, fuel and embers of the former
fire, the smith was held responsible. Those who have been placed in
situations to feel the inconveniency and want of this useful artizan,
will be able to appreciate his value in a case like the present. Mr
Smeaton often felt the want of a forge permanently upon the rock,
and had the foundation of the Eddystone Light-house required more
extensive preparations, this useful implement could hardly have been
dispensed with; but the Eddystone rock was so small as hardly to
have room for it, in addition to other no less necessary apparatus.
Could the operations of the blacksmith, at the Bell Rock, have been
continued, from the commencement of the operations, even for half an
hour longer every tide than the pickmen or quarriers, it would have
added much to the facilities and progress of the work. But a stage or
platform, in that case, must have been erected, to which there were a
number of intervening obstacles, that more than counter-balanced the
temporary inconveniency felt from the want of this additional time.
It often happened, to our annoyance and disappointment, in the early
state of the work, when the smith was in the middle of a _favourite
heat_, in making some useful article, or in sharpening the tools,
after the flood-tide had obliged the pickmen to strike work, a sea
would come rolling over the rocks, dash out the fire, and endanger his
indispensable implement the bellows; or if the sea was smooth, while
the smith often stood at work knee-deep in water, the tide rose by
imperceptible degrees, first cooling the exterior of the fire-place,
or hearth, and then quietly blackening and extinguishing the fire from
below. The writer has frequently been amused at the perplexing anxiety
of the blacksmith, when coaxing his fire, and endeavouring to avert
the effects of the rising tide. In this state of things, the erection
of the Beacon was looked forward to as a happy period, when the smith
should be removed above the reach of the highest tides.

[Sidenote: Friday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Seals desert the Bell Rock.]

The weather still continued to be very fine; though the winds
were variable, they rather prevailed from the eastward, and were
occasionally accompanied with a hazy atmosphere, inclining to fog. The
boats landed to-day upon the rock at half-past 7 o’clock A. M., and
left it at a quarter past 11, the artificers having had an excellent
tide’s work of three hours and three-quarters. Every thing connected
with the forge being now completed, the artificers found no want of
sharp tools, and the work went forward with great alacrity and spirit.
It was also alleged that the rock had a more habitable appearance, from
the volumes of smoke which ascended from the smith’s shop; and the busy
noise of his anvil; the operations of the masons; the movements of the
boats, and shipping at a distance, all contributed to give life and
activity to the scene. This noise and traffic had, however, the effect
of almost completely banishing the herd of seals which had hitherto
frequented the rock as a resting place, during the period of low
water. Though these animals were thus prevented from reposing upon the
higher parts of the rock, yet they ventured, for a time, to lie upon
the more detached outlayers which dry partially: here they seemed to
look with that sort of curiosity which is observable in these animals
when following a boat. But after the smith established himself, it was
rare to see more than one or two of these amphibious animals about
the rock, which seemed to be peculiarly adapted to their habits; for,
excepting two or three days at neap tides, a part of it always dries
at low water, at least during the summer season; and as there was good
fishing ground in the neighbourhood, without a human being to disturb
or molest them, it had become a very favourite residence of the seal,
if we may judge from their numbers, the writer having occasionally
counted from fifty to sixty of these animals playing about the rock
at a time. But when they came to be disturbed every tide, and their
seclusion was broke in upon by the kindling of great fires, together,
with the beating of hammers and picks during low water, after hovering
about for a time, they changed their place, and seldom more than one or
two were to be seen about the rock. The writer felt a desire to protect
these animals, with a view to observe their habits, and in hopes of
taming them, at least so far as he had observed was done at the Small’s
Light-house, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, another favourite resort
of seals, where, by gentle treatment, they have become so tame and
familiar as to eat bread out of the hands of the light-keepers. But
here, indeed, they constantly find a resting place, as some of the
Small’s rocks are always above water.

[Sidenote: Progress of the work.]

[Sidenote: Hampered state of the artificers.]

We had now been six days out from Arbroath, and, in that time, had
the good fortune to have seven successive tides’ work upon the rock,
during which, the smith’s forge had been fixed, and twelve holes of 2
inches in diameter and 18 inches in depth, had been bored or drilled
into the rock, in the process of excavating the bat or stanchion-holes
for fixing the principal beams of the Beacon-house. Hitherto the
artificers had remained on board of the Smeaton, which was made fast
to one of the mooring buoys, at the distance only of about a quarter
of a mile from the rock, and of course a very great conveniency to
the work. Being so near, the seamen could never be mistaken as to the
progress of the tide, or state of the sea upon the rock, nor could the
boats be much at a loss to pull on board of the vessel during fog,
or even in very rough weather; as she could be cast loose from her
moorings at pleasure, and brought to the lee side of the rock. But
the Smeaton being only about forty register tons, her accommodations
were extremely limited. It may, therefore, be easily imagined, that an
addition of twenty-four persons to her own crew, must have rendered the
situation of those on board rather uncomfortable. This vessel served
as a tender only in fine weather, with the assistance of the boats of
the floating-light, for she could not stow boats sufficiently large
for attending the rock with such a complement of artificers. The only
place for the men’s hammocks on board being in the hold, they were
unavoidably much crowded; and if the weather had required the hatches
to be fastened down, so great a number of men could not possibly have
been accommodated. To add to this evil, the _co-boose_ or cooking place
being upon deck, it would not have been possible to have cooked for so
large a company in the event of bad weather.

The stock of water was now getting short, and some necessaries being
also wanted for the floating-light, the Smeaton was dispatched for
Arbroath; and the writer with the artificers, at the same time, shifted
their quarters from her to the floating-light.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Inconveniencies of the Pharos as a tender.]

The operations still continued to be favoured with pleasant weather;
to-day there were light airs of wind from south-east, and the morning
bell was rung at 6. Although the rock barely made its appearance at
this period of the tides till 8 o’clock, yet, having now a full mile
to row from the floating-light to the rock, instead of about a quarter
of a mile from the moorings of the Smeaton, it was necessary to be
earlier astir, and to form different arrangements; breakfast was
accordingly served up at 7 o’clock this morning. From the excessive
motion of the floating-light, the writer had looked forward rather with
anxiety to the removal of the workmen to this ship. Some among them,
who had been congratulating themselves upon having become sea-hardy
while on board of the Smeaton, had a complete relapse on returning to
the floating-light. This was also the case with the writer. From the
spacious and convenient birthage of the floating-light, the exchange
to the artificers was, in this respect, much for the better. The boats
were also commodious, measuring sixteen feet in length on the keel, so
that, in fine weather, their complement of sitters was sixteen persons
for each, with which, however, they were rather crowded, but she could
not stow two boats of larger dimensions. When there was what is called
a breeze of wind, and a swell in the sea, the proper number for each
boat could not, with propriety, be rated at more than twelve persons.

The act of getting into or out of a boat, when alongside of the
floating-light, was at all times attended with more or less difficulty;
her rolling motion was so great, that the gunwale, though about five
feet above the surface of the water, she dipped nearly into it, upon
the one side, while her keel could not be far from the surface on
the other. This was her state, even in moderate weather, in certain
directions of the wind, especially for the period of about an hour,
when she was _thwarting_ to the tide, or rode in what sailors call the
_trough_ of the sea. The act of getting on board was then attended with
great difficulty, even to seamen, and was particularly so to landmen,
requiring all the attention which the landing-master could bestow, in
getting the artificers safely transferred from the boats to the ship,
and _vice versa_.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of getting on board and leaving the Pharos.]

When the tide-bell rung, the boats were hoisted out, and two active
seamen were employed to keep them from receiving damage alongside.
The floating-light being very buoyant, was so quick in her motions,
that when those who were about to step from her gunwale into a boat,
placed themselves upon a cleat or step on the ship’s side, with the man
or rail ropes in their hands, they had often to wait for some time,
till a favourable opportunity occurred for stepping into the boat.
While in this situation, with the vessel rolling from side to side,
watching the proper time for letting go the man-ropes, it required the
greatest dexterity and presence of mind to leap into the boat. One who
was rather awkward, would often wait a considerable period in this
position: at one time his side of the ship would be so depressed, that
he would touch the boat to which he belonged, while the next sea would
elevate him so much, that he would see his comrades in the boat on the
opposite side of the ship, his friends in the one boat calling to him
to “Jump,” while those in the boat on the other side, as he came again
and again into their view, would jocosely say, “Are you there yet?
You seem to enjoy a swing.” In this situation it was common to see a
person, upon each side of the ship, for a length of time, waiting to
quit his hold. A stranger to this sort of motion was both alarmed for
the safety, and delighted with the agility of persons leaping into the
boat, under those perilous circumstances. No sooner had one quitted
his station on the gunwale, than another occupied his place, until the
whole were safely shipped.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of keeping boats alongside.]

It also formed a critical operation with the sailors to keep the boats
at a convenient distance from the vessel, to guard against being too
far off; as, in that case, the man, in the act of stepping off the
ship’s side, might have been in danger of falling into the sea. If,
on the other hand, the boat was allowed to come in contact with the
vessel, she would have been in danger of being staved or damaged. This
state of things was fortunately not what we had to commence with,
as the weather happened to be, as before noticed, serene, and the
Smeaton’s sides were comparatively low in the water. The excessive
rolling of the Pharos did not therefore come upon the artificers all
at once, otherwise some unpleasant accidents must have happened, for
in these rolling operations, if a stranger had, in a moment of alarm,
let go his hold, at an improper time, he must have been pitched with
violence into the sea.

The party being seated in their respective boats, they were pulled to
the Bell Rock in about twenty minutes, from the moorings of the Pharos,
when the water was smooth and the wind moderate. This morning the
boats reached the rock at 8 o’clock; the work commenced exactly at a
quarter past 8, and at half-past 11, the water again began to overflow
the parts on which the artificers were at work. Every tide now gave
the writer more pleasant prospects of the progress of the work than
another, especially since the erection of the smith’s forge.

[Sidenote: Artificers become expert rowers.]

[Sidenote: Rations of artificers.]

On leaving the rock to-day, a trial of seamanship was proposed amongst
the rowers, for by this time the artificers had become tolerably expert
in this exercise. By inadvertency, some of the oars provided had been
made of fir instead of ash, and although a considerable stock had
been laid in, the workmen, being at first awkward in the art, were
constantly breaking their oars; indeed, it was no uncommon thing to see
the broken blades of a pair of oars floating astern, in the course of a
passage from the rock to the vessel. The men, upon the whole, had but
little work to perform in the course of a day; for though they exerted
themselves extremely hard while on the rock, yet, in the early state
of the operations, this could not be continued for more than three or
four hours at a time, and as their rations were large, consisting of
one pound and a half of beef,--one pound of ship-biscuit,--eight ounces
oatmeal,--two ounces barley,--two ounces butter,--three quarts of
beer,--with vegetables and salt, they got into excellent spirits, when
free of sea-sickness. The rowing of the boats against each other became
a favourite amusement; which was rather a fortunate circumstance, as
it must have been attended with much inconvenience, had it been found
necessary to employ a sufficient number of sailors for this purpose.
The writer, therefore, encouraged this spirit of emulation, and the
speed of their respective boats became a favourite topic. Premiums for
boat races were also instituted, which were contended for with great
eagerness, and the respective crews kept their stations in the boats,
with as much precision as they kept their beds on board of the ship.
With these, and other pastimes, when the weather was favourable, the
time passed away, among the inmates of the fore-castle and waist of the
ship. The writer looks back with interest upon the hours of solitude
which he spent in this lonely ship, with his small library.

[Sidenote: “Saturday night at Sea.”]

This being the first Saturday that the artificers were afloat, all
hands were served with a glass of rum and water at night, to drink the
sailors favourite toast of “Wives and Sweethearts.” It was customary,
upon these occasions, for the seamen and artificers to collect in the
galley, when the musical instruments were put in requisition; for,
according to invariable practice, every man must play a tune, sing a
song, or tell a story. In this manner Saturday night, in particular,
passed away in a very happy manner, when much boisterous mirth and
loud peals of laughter occasionally broke forth. It is true, that this
could not proceed from a single glass, but every man sat down with
a determination to be pleased. They had, besides, a pretty liberal
allowance of good small beer, which the rations of the sick increased;
and they contrived to make the glass go round, and seemed to feel no
want whatever, while the ship kept from her excessive rolling motion.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 23d.]

The operations at the Bell Rock were still fortunate with regard to
the weather. The morning of Sunday set in with light airs from the
south-west, which, towards mid-day, came to what sailors term fresh
breezes, but towards evening it fell calm, and the weather became

[Sidenote: Reasons for continuing the work on Sunday.]

To some, it may require an apology, or, at least, call for an
explanation, why the writer took upon himself to step aside from
the established rules of society, by carrying on the works of this
undertaking during Sundays. Such practices are not uncommon in the
dock-yards and arsenals, when it is conceived that the public service
requires extraordinary exertions. Surely, if, under any circumstances,
it is allowable to go about the ordinary labours of mankind on Sundays,
that of the erection of a light-house upon the Bell Rock, seems to
be one of the most pressing calls which could in any case occur, and
carries along with it the imperious language of necessity. When we take
into consideration, that, in its effects, this work was to operate
in a direct manner for the safety of many valuable lives and much
property, the beautiful and simple parables of the Holy Scriptures,
inculcating works of necessity and mercy, must present themselves to
every mind unbiassed by the trammels of form or the influence of a
distorted imagination. In this perilous work, to give up every seventh
day, would just have been to protract the time a seventh part. Now, as
it was generally supposed, after taking all advantages into view, that
the work would probably require seven years for its execution, such an
arrangement must have extended the operation to at least eight years,
and have exposed it to additional risk and danger, in all its stages.
The writer, therefore, felt little scruple in continuing the Bell Rock
works in all favourable states of the weather.

[Sidenote: Preparations for reading prayers on deck.]

Having, on the previous evening, arranged matters with the
landing-master as to the business of the day, the signal was rung
for all hands at half past 7 this morning. In the early state of the
spring-tides, the artificers went to the rock before breakfast, but
as the tides fell later in the day, it became necessary to take this
meal before leaving the ship. At 8 o’clock all hands were assembled on
the quarter-deck for prayers, a solemnity which was gone through in as
orderly a manner as circumstances would admit. Round the quarter-deck,
when the weather permitted, the flags of the ship were hung up as an
awning or screen, forming the quarter-deck into a distinct compartment
with colours; the pendant was also hoisted at the main-mast, and a
large ensign flag was displayed over the stern; and, lastly, the ship’s
companion, or top of the staircase, was covered with the _flag proper_
of the Light-house Service, on which the Bible was laid. A particular
toll of the bell called all hands to the quarter-deck, when the writer
read a chapter of the Bible, and, the whole ship’s company being
uncovered, he also read the following impressive prayer, composed by
the Reverend Dr Brunton, one of the ministers of Edinburgh.

_A Prayer for the use of those Employed at the Erection of the Bell
Rock Light-House._

  “Almighty and ever blessed God! Thou art not confined to temples made
  with man’s hands: The temple most acceptable to thee is the heart of
  thy worshipper: Thou hast promised, that wherever thy servants are
  assembled, thou wilt be with them, to bless them and to do them good.
  Unto us, O our Father! may the promise be fulfilled. Even here, where
  no temple invites, and where no ordinances cheer us, be with us, we
  beseech thee, while we meet in thy presence; and strengthen us to
  discharge the duties of thy holy day.

  “The Sabbath was appointed to celebrate thy creating power: And here,
  where the magnificence of thy works surrounds us,--where we see thy
  wonders in the deep,--where we behold every morning thy Sun arise
  from the world of waters, to spread, as at the first, light and
  beauty over Nature,--shall not our souls pour forth abundantly the
  tribute of adoration to thee, whose word alone spake the Universe
  into being!

  “The Sabbath commemorates that Providence which watcheth continually
  over the works of thy hand: And shall not we, whom dangers so often
  threaten, and whom difficulties so often alarm; shall not we,
  conscious of our frailty, and removed far from human aid; shall not
  we raise the voice of thanksgiving to God, who alone protecteth us,
  and who, even in the midst of danger, causeth us to dwell in safety!

  “The Sabbath was appointed to commemorate the triumphs of redeeming
  love: And shall not we hail it with delight, whose earliest infancy
  was hallowed in the name of Jesus; on whose opening minds the
  doctrines of his faith were poured; who, even in this remote abode,
  are permitted to call upon thy holy name in prayer,--to read the
  Oracles of everlasting truth,--to speak one to another of the God who
  hath loved and blessed us!

  “Our souls do magnify the Lord, our spirits rejoice in God our
  Saviour; for he that is mighty hath done great things for his
  people, and his mercy is on them that fear him. We bless thee for
  the doctrines which our Master taught,--for the example which he set
  before us,--for the atonement by which he relieves us from the load
  of guilt,--for the hope which he hath restored of grace and glory.
  We bless thee for the institutions which thou hast appointed for
  enlightening thy people in religious knowledge, and for training
  them to lives of usefulness and purity. With shame we remember how
  often we have abused our Christian privileges,--how often we have
  neglected the exercises of private devotion,--how often we have
  failed to study thy holy word,--how often, while yet it was in our
  power to go up to the house of God, we have forsaken the assembling
  of ourselves together,--how often we have worshipped thee with our
  lips, while our hearts were far from thee. Visit us not, O God! in
  anger, for our transgression; but do thou enable us to lament and
  forsake it. Let not the circumstances in which we now are placed, be
  permitted to wean our affections from thy worship. But, while the
  service of humanity calls us to labour even on this day of rest,
  save us,--O thou, who wilt have mercy and not sacrifice!--save us
  from the temptation which might lead us to forget our God, and the
  duties which we owe to him. Rather, while we are deprived of thine
  ordinances for a season, do thou give us grace, through prayer and
  holy meditation, to compensate the loss; that we may, with delight,
  look forward to the time when the courts of thy sanctuary shall be
  opened to us again; when we, and those whom we love and value, shall
  again take sweet counsel together, and walk in company to the house
  of God. Give to us, even now, O God of our salvation! those pious
  and holy dispositions which will prepare us for the nobler worship,
  offered to thee by the Angels of Heaven, and by the Spirits of just
  men made perfect.

  “We pray to our common Father in behalf of all mankind. May the
  day-spring from on high arise on those who now sit in darkness; and,
  where the light of the Gospel already shines, may its influences be
  felt reviving and purifying.

  “We pray especially for our native land;--for her peace,--her
  prosperity,--her liberties,--and her honour. We pray for our king,
  and for all who are in authority over us. We pray particularly for
  those by whose command we are engaged in this arduous work. Bless
  them in their persons, in their families, and in the discharge of
  their official duty. Prosper, we beseech thee, the work itself in
  which we are engaged. May it remain long after our eyes have ceased
  to behold it. Long after our ashes are cold in the dust, may he that
  was ready to perish have cause to bless the memory of those by whom
  it was reared.

  “We pray for the people of our land. Purify them unto thyself a
  peculiar people, zealous of good works: Bless them in their commerce,
  and in their harvests: Bless them in the pursuits of honest industry:
  Bless them in the relations of domestic life: Bless them, above all,
  with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.

  “May the sons and daughters of affliction be enabled to profit by
  the bitter lesson with which thou hast seen it meet to visit them.
  Restore the sick to usefulness, or prepare the dying for judgment and
  eternity. May the living lay it to heart that they must die, and act
  as it becometh those who know not how soon they shall be called hence.

  “Our friends and families, from whom we are separated for a time,
  we commit to thy protection, O God of love! Unspeakably precious is
  the thought, that thou carest for them,--that thine eye is upon them
  continually,--and thine everlasting arms around them. Grant that,
  in thy good time, we may meet them in peace;--Grant that we may be
  united hereafter in that land where separation and pain are unknown
  for ever.

  “Our enemies we beseech thee to forgive and bless. Bless us, even us
  also, O our Father! Give us thy grace in every season of trial;--give
  us thy protection in every hour of danger. Prepare us for the
  dispensations of thy Providence;--prepare us for the discharge of
  duty;--prepare us for the inheritance of the just.

  “And may grace, and mercy, and peace, from the Father, the Son, and
  the Holy Ghost, be with us for ever.”

[Sidenote: Some of the artificers decline working on Sunday.]

Upon concluding this service, which was attended with becoming
reverence and attention, all on board retired to their respective
births to breakfast, and, at half-past 9, the bell again rung for the
artificers to take their stations in their respective boats. Some
demur having been evinced on board, about the propriety of working on
Sunday, which had hitherto been touched upon as delicately as possible,
all hands being called aft, the writer, from the quarter deck, stated
generally the nature of the service, expressing his hopes that every
man would feel himself called upon to consider the erection of a
light-house on the Bell Rock, in every point of view, as a work of
necessity and mercy. He knew that scruples had existed with some, and
these had, indeed, been fairly and candidly urged before leaving the
shore; but it was expected, that, after having seen the critical nature
of the rock, and the necessity of the measure, every man would now be
satisfied of the propriety of embracing all opportunities of landing on
the rock, when the state of the weather would permit; and, in short,
of exerting every effort in this as a common cause, at least until the
Beacon should be erected, being an undertaking, on which the lives and
safety of all connected with these works had a constant dependence. The
writer, farther, took them to witness, that it did not proceed from
want of respect for the appointments and established forms of religion
that he had himself adopted the resolution of attending the Bell Rock
works on the Sunday; but, as he hoped, from a conviction that it was
his bounden duty, on the strictest principles of morality. At the same
time it was intimated, that if any were of a different opinion, they
should be perfectly at liberty to hold their sentiments, without the
imputation of contumacy or disobedience; the only difference would be
in regard to the pay.

Upon stating this much, he stepped into his boat, requesting all
who were so disposed to follow him. The sailors, from their habits,
found no scruple on this subject, and all of the artificers, though a
little tardy, also embarked, excepting four of the masons, who, from
the beginning, mentioned that they would decline working on Sundays.
The boats reached the rock at a quarter past 10 o’clock A. M., and
after a very active tide’s work of two hours and a half, the water
again overflowed the rock. It may here be noticed, that throughout
the whole of the operations, it was observable that the men wrought,
if possible, with more keenness upon the Sundays than at other times,
from an impression that they were engaged in a work of imperious
necessity, which required every possible exertion. On returning to
the floating-light, after finishing the tide’s work, the boats were
received by the part of the ship’s crew left on board, with the usual
attention of handing ropes to the boats, and helping the artificers on
board; but the four masons who had absented themselves from the work
did not appear upon deck.

[Sidenote: Additional pay on Sunday.]

As the season advanced, the period of low water occurred later, and
the writer did not consider it advisable, in the present state of the
works, to land on the rock under night, there being nothing to mark
its place prior to the erection of the Beacon. Under more favourable
circumstances, he would willingly have landed this evening, to entitle
the artificers who accompanied him in the morning, to additional wages,
as every tide’s work on Sunday counted a day, according to the rate of
pay and premiums which he had laid down.

[Sidenote: Monday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: Neap-tides. Artificers working knee-deep in water.]

The weather, upon the whole, was very fine to-day, and the winds,
though variable, were gentle; but from the mildness of the season, it
got rather foggy towards the evening. The boats left the floating-light
at a quarter past 9 o’clock this morning, and the work began at
three-quarters past 9; but as the neap tides were approaching, the
working-time at the rock became gradually shorter, and it was now
with difficulty that two and a half hours work could be got. But, so
keenly had the workmen entered into the spirit of the Beacon-house
operations, that they continued to bore the holes in the rock till some
of them were knee deep in water. In this work the sailors were also
engaged, taking their turns at the boring and other works.

[Sidenote: Operations entirely confined to the Beacon.]

[Sidenote: Description of the operation of boring the rock.]

The operations at this time, were entirely directed to the erection
of the beacon, in which every man felt an equal interest, as at this
critical period the slightest casualty to any of the boats at the rock
might have been fatal to himself individually, while it was perhaps
peculiar to the writer more immediately to feel for the safety of the
whole. Each log or upright beam of the beacon, was to be fixed to
the rock by two strong and massive bats or stanchions of iron, of a
construction which will be better understood by inspecting the diagrams
on Plate VIII., and the accompanying description. These bats, for
the fixture of the principal and diagonal beams and bracing-chains,
required fifty-four holes, each measuring two inches in diameter, and
eighteen inches in depth. The operation of boring or drilling these
deep holes in the rock, was conducted with great dexterity in the
following manner: Three men were attached to each jumper or chisel; one
placed himself in a sitting posture, to guide the instrument and give
it a turn at each blow of the hammer; he also sponged or cleaned out
the hole, and supplied it occasionally with a little water; while the
other two, with hammers of sixteen pounds weight, struck the jumper
alternately, generally bringing the hammer with a swing round the
shoulder, after the manner of blacksmiths’ work. The three men relieved
each other in the operation of guiding the jumper and striking with
the hammers. The forms of the jumper, hammer, and sponging-rod, are
represented in Plate X., Figs. 7, 8, and 9. After many observations, as
to the time occupied in boring these holes, the writer found that, when
the tools were of a very good temper, they could be sunk at the rate of
one inch per minute, including stoppages. The holes for the stanchions,
when completed, measured seven inches in length, two inches in breadth,
and eighteen inches in depth. After a jumper had been sunk to the
necessary depth at each end of these holes, the most tedious part of
the operation was to cut out the piece of rock which remained between
the two jumper-holes, so as to clear it fully for the reception of the
great iron stanchions, which were of a dove-tail form.

[Sidenote: Progress of the work.]

There had already been so considerable a progress made in boring and
excavating these holes, that the writer’s hopes of getting the beacon
erected this year, began to be more and more confirmed, although it
was now advancing towards what was considered the latter end of the
proper working season at the Bell Rock. The foreman joiner, Mr Francis
Watt, was accordingly appointed to attend at the rock to-day, when the
necessary levels were taken for the step or seat of each particular
beam of the beacon, that they might be cut to their respective lengths,
to suit the inequalities of the rock; several of the stanchions were
also tried into their places, and other necessary observations made, to
prevent mistakes on the application of the apparatus, and to facilitate
the operations, when the beams came to be set up, which would require
to be done in the course of a single tide.

[Sidenote: Tuesday 25th.]

We had now experienced an almost unvaried tract of light airs of
easterly wind, with clear weather in the fore-part of the day, and
fog in the evenings. To-day, however, it sensibly changed; when the
wind came to the south-west, and blew a fresh breeze. At 9 A. M. the
bell rung, and the boats were hoisted out, and though the artificers
were now pretty well accustomed to tripping up and down the sides
of the floating-light, yet it required more seamanship this morning
than usual. It therefore afforded some merriment to those who had got
fairly seated in their respective boats, to see the difficulties which
attended their companions, from the hesitating manner in which they
quitted hold of the man-ropes in leaving the ship. As it blew pretty
fresh, the passage to the rock was tedious, and the boats did not reach
it till half-past 10. By working upon the higher parts of the site of
the beacon 1¼ hours work was got, though not without difficulty,
and the men left off at a quarter past 12 noon, completely drenched in

[Sidenote: Difficult situation of the Smith.]

The masons and pickmen were employed in boring the bat-holes, and in
dressing and preparing the rock between the holes, at the places on
which the beams of the beacon-house were to rest. It being now the
period of neap-tides, the water only partially left the rock, and some
of the men, who were boring on the lower ledges of the site of the
beacon, stood knee-deep in water. The situation of the smith to-day
was particularly disagreeable, but his services were at all times
indispensable. As the tide did not leave the site of the forge, he
stood in the water, and as there was some roughness on the surface,
it was with considerable difficulty that, with the assistance of the
sailors, he was enabled to preserve alive his fire; and, while his
feet were immersed in water, his face was not only scorched, but
continually exposed to volumes of smoke, accompanied with sparks from
the fire, which were occasionally set up, owing to the strength and
direction of the wind.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 26th.]

[Sidenote: Wind-gauge, and nomenclature for the winds much wanted.]

The wind had shifted this morning to N. NW. with rain, and was
blowing what sailors call a fresh breeze,--for as yet a correct
and efficient wind-gauge remains a desideratum with the mechanical
philosopher; and we have unfortunately no proper or satisfactory
nomenclature for expressing the force of the wind. To speak, perhaps,
somewhat intelligibly to the general reader, the wind was such, that a
fishing-boat could just carry full sail. The weather did not look very
favourable in the morning; but as it was of importance, especially in
the outset of the business, to keep up the spirit of enterprise for
landing on all practicable occasions, the writer, after consulting with
the landing-master, ordered the bell to be rung for embarking, and at
half-past 11 the boats reached the rock, and left it again at a quarter
past 12, without, however, being able to do much work, as the smith
could not be set to work from the smallness of the ebb and the strong
breach of sea, which lashed with great force among the bars of the

[Sidenote: Difficult passage from the Rock to the Floating-Light.]

Just as we were about to leave the rock, the wind shifted to the SW.,
and, from a fresh gale, it became what seamen term a hard gale, or
such as would have required the fisherman to take in two or three
reefs in his sail. The boats being rather in a crowded state for this
sort of weather, they were pulled with great difficulty towards the
floating-light. Though the boats were handsomely built, and presented
little obstruction to the wind, as those who were not pulling sat
low, yet having the ebb-tide to contend with, the passage was so very
tedious, that it required two hours of hard work before we reached the

It is a curious fact, before noticed, that the respective tides of ebb
and flood are apparent upon the shore about an hour and a half sooner
than at the distance of three or four miles in the offing. But what
seems chiefly interesting here is, that the tides around this small
sunken rock should follow exactly the same laws as on the extensive
shores of the mainland. When the boats left the Bell Rock to-day, it
was overflowed by the flood-tide, but the floating-light did not swing
round to the flood-tide for more than an hour afterwards. Under this
disadvantage the boats had to struggle with the ebb-tide and a hard
gale of wind, so that it was with the greatest difficulty they reached
the floating-light. Had this gale happened in spring-tides when the
current was strong, we must have been driven to sea in a very helpless

[Sidenote: Life-buoy streamed.]

The boat which the writer steered, was considerably behind the other,
one of the masons having unluckily broken his oar. Our prospect of
getting on board, of course, became doubtful, and our situation was
rather perilous, as the boat shipped so much sea that it occupied two
of the artificers to bale and clear her of water. When the oar gave
way, we were about half a mile from the ship, but being fortunately
to windward, we got into the wake of the floating-light, at about 250
fathoms astern, just as the Landing-master’s boat reached the vessel.
He immediately streamed or floated a life-buoy astern, with a line
which was always in readiness, and by means of this useful implement,
the boat was towed alongside of the floating-light, where, from her
rolling motion, it required no small management to get safely on board,
as the men were much worn out with their exertions in pulling from the
rock. On the present occasion, the crews of both boats were completely
drenched with spray, and those who sat upon the bottom of the boats to
bale them, were sometimes pretty deep in the water, before it could be
cleared out. After getting on board, all hands were allowed an extra
dram, and having shifted, and got a warm and comfortable dinner, the
affair, it is believed, was little more thought of.

[Sidenote: Tender ordered exclusively for the service of the Rock.]

This was the first difficult or tedious passage which had been
experienced in landing at the Bell Rock; it was also the first
time that the writer had really felt the inconveniency of not
having a vessel entirely set apart for the purposes of a tender.
The floating-light, from the construction of her moorings, and the
service for which she was specially employed, could not be cast loose
or brought to the lea side of the rock in any case of emergency.
Neither could she be risked to ride at moorings near enough to the
rock, to place her in a more eligible situation for the purposes of
the work. When these circumstances were brought under the notice of
the Commissioners, it was ordered that a vessel should be provided,
exclusively as a tender for the operations of the rock; and this was
accordingly done before the commencement of the works of another season.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 27th.]

[Sidenote: Depth of water in the site of the building in Neap-tides.]

The tides were now in that state which sailors term the dead of the
neap, and it was not expected that any part of the rock would be seen
above water to-day; at any rate, it was obvious, from the experience
of yesterday, that no work could be done upon it, and therefore the
artificers were not required to land. The wind was at west, with light
breezes, and fine clear weather; and as it was an object with the
writer to know the actual state of the Bell Rock at neap-tides, he got
one of the boats manned, and, being accompanied by the landing-master,
went to it at a quarter past 12. The parts of the rock that appeared
above water being very trifling, were covered by every wave, so that
no landing was made. Upon trying the depth of water with a boat-hook,
particularly on the sites of the Light-house and Beacon, on the
former, at low water, the depth was found to be three feet, and on
the central parts of the latter it was ascertained to be two feet
eight inches. Having made these remarks, the boat returned to the ship
at 2 P. M., and the weather being good, the artificers were found
amusing themselves with fishing. The Smeaton came from Arbroath this
afternoon, and made fast to her moorings, having brought letters and
newspapers, with parcels of clean linen, &c. for the workmen; who were
also made happy by the arrival of three of their comrades from the
work-yard, ashore. From these men they not only received all the news
of the work-yard, but seemed themselves to enjoy great pleasure in
communicating whatever they considered to be interesting with regard
to the rock. Some also got letters from their friends at a distance,
the postage of which, for the men afloat, was always free, so that they
corresponded the more readily.

[Sidenote: Friday, 28th.]

To-day the weather was not quite so agreeable as it had been yesterday,
the wind being south-east, and blowing what sailors term a fresh
breeze, by which we understand a force of wind that would be sufficient
to cause the sails of a fishing-boat to be reefed. At ½ past 1 P. M.,
the writer again went to the rock, accompanied by the landing-master,
when a depth of about four feet of water was found upon the site of the
Light-house, which may be considered a medium depth, as nearly as this
could be ascertained in its present unworked state, but there was some
surf upon the rock.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 29th.]

[Sidenote: Some of the Artificers wish to go ashore.]

In the course of the night, the wind had shifted from SE. to SW., and
it blew very hard, being technically termed a _stiff gale_, or rather
too much wind for a fishing-boat. It was therefore considered unsafe
for the Smeaton to continue at her moorings, and the signal was made
for her to sail for Arbroath; she therefore got under way, but although
there was a packet of letters for the shore, and the artificers
had their memorandums in readiness, yet the floating-light rolled
so unmercifully, that it would have been at the imminent hazard of
staving or dashing a boat to pieces, had it been attempted to put one
out. This was a disappointment in one way, though it answered a good
purpose in another, as two of the three men, who had come last from the
work-yard, earnestly entreated that they might be allowed to return,
as they could no longer endure the rolling of the floating-light,
a request in which they were anxiously accompanied by one of the
masons, who had all along been much afflicted with sea-sickness. These
applications were necessarily refused; they then applied to have an
interview with the writer, when they urged the misery they were likely
to suffer on board, without their being able to do any work at the
rock. To the two strangers the difficulty and danger of putting out
a boat was stated, as rendering it impossible for them to leave the
ship; while the third person was reminded of his engagement to remain
afloat for one month. In this manner these two men were put off, with
the prospect of better weather in the course of a day or two. With
regard to the other, he had suffered so severely, that the writer would
have been happy to have had him ashore, and he was informed that if
his comrades would ask leave for him, it would be granted. This being
readily complied with, he was left at full liberty to return to the
work-yard. But, for the present, the Smeaton was obliged to pass at
a considerable distance, without being able to communicate with the

[Sidenote: Sunday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: Land upon the Rock after five days absence.]

The wind was N.NE. this morning, in light airs, and the weather was
clear. This being Sunday, the usual ceremony was observed at 12 noon,
when the writer read prayers on the quarter-deck. The ensuing set
of spring-tides were now coming to hand, and, at 3 P. M., all the
artificers embarked for the rock, excepting the four men who had
declined it last Sunday. Their places, however, were willingly taken
by the three men who came last from the shore, who were happy to get
relief from the disagreeable motion of the floating-light upon any
terms. The boats reached the rock at half-past 3; but being rather
early in the tide, the men rested on their oars till 4 o’clock, and
then landed on the different spots as they dried, where they remained
till the tide ebbed sufficiently to allow them to commence work. This
was the first time the artificers had landed on the rock for five days,
owing to the state of the weather and tides, and it was not a little
flattering, on this occasion, to see with what eagerness the workmen
leaped upon it. Those who were not troubled with sea-sickness, felt
a degree of languor on board from which their working hours formed
rather a relaxation, while the sickly (by far the greater number)
felt immediate relief upon setting their foot upon _terra firma_,
even in its most circumscribed boundary. While the water was going
off the rock, the workmen were all busily employed in picking dulse,
the _Fucus palmatus_ of botanists, and indeed any other of the marine
plants which happened to lie within their reach. Those who were the
greatest sufferers from sea-sickness always ate the most greedily upon
these occasions. Such incidental circumstances tended greatly to keep
up the desire for landing at the rock, and seemed, in some measure, to
compensate for the labour of rowing to and from it.

[Sidenote: Method of fixing the stanchions in the rock.]

The operation of boring the bat-holes being in great forwardness, the
men were now chiefly employed in chiselling or cutting out the piece
of rock which remained between each pair of jumper-holes, forming a
ridge of about two inches in thickness. When this was cleared away, the
bat-hole was of the proper form, and, as before noticed, it measured
about seven inches in length, two inches in breadth, and eighteen
inches in depth, an excavation which, from its dimensions, must readily
appear to have been attended with much difficulty. The holes, though
bored with the same size of chisels, as nearly as might be, were
not precisely of the same size; but this was not essential, as the
stanchion, when wedged in its place, completely filled the aperture.
This operation of chiselling out the middle piece, and widening the
hole in the form of a _dove-tail_, was a much more intricate and
tedious operation than boring perpendicularly with the jumper. At that
process three men worked with great celerity, whereas two only could be
employed in cutting out the divisions and widening the holes.

The site of the building having already been carefully traced out with
the pick-axe, the artificers, this day, commenced the excavation of the
rock, for the foundation or first course of the light-house. Four men
only were employed at this work, while twelve continued at the site of
the Beacon-house, at which every possible opportunity was embraced,
till this essential part of the operations should be completed. After
having been two hours upon the rock this tide, the water began to rise
upon the smith’s forge and the site of the Beacon-house, and at ¼
past 6 o’clock P. M. the artificers left the rock.

[Sidenote: Monday, 31st.]

[Sidenote: Longest day’s work hitherto had on the Bell Rock.]

The winds varied to-day from N.NE. to S. Though it blew pretty fresh,
it was not accompanied with any swell in the sea, and the weather upon
the whole was very pleasant. At half-past 3 in the morning, the writer
was called by the landing-master, to consult about the state of the
weather, and the practicability of landing upon the rock. After some
hesitation, the result was to proceed: the signal bell for getting
the boats ready was rung at 4 A. M., when all hands took to their
respective boats, and at half-past 4 the work commenced at the rock:
it continued till half-past 7, allowing an excellent tide’s work of
three hours, when the artificers again returned to the floating-light,
and remained till the evening tide. At 4 P. M. they landed, but did
not begin to work till a quarter from 5 o’clock, when the water had
sufficiently left the rock. At a quarter past 7 it was overflowed, when
the boats returned to the ship, and the writer was not a little elated,
as the morning and evening tide had afforded no less than five and a
half hours work, being the greatest day’s work hitherto obtained on the
Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: September, Tuesday, 1st.]

The weather was extremely pleasant throughout these twenty-four
hours, though the wind veered and shifted about from N.W. to W.SW.
At 4 o’clock this morning the bell made rather an unwelcome call,
but all hands readily turned out. As before mentioned, when the work
commenced at these early hours, a dram and a biscuit were served out
to the artificers; and the writer, upon these occasions, found a cup
of coffee very salutary. Having landed at a quarter from 5, the work
was continued for three and a half hours, four men, as before noticed,
being employed on the site of the Light-house, and twelve at the
Beacon-house. The water overflowed the rock at a quarter past 7, when
the boats returned to the floating-light.

[Sidenote: Smeaton brings off the experimental cargo of stone.]

The Smeaton had arrived from Arbroath in the course of the last night,
and made fast to her moorings at the eastern buoy, which was nearest
to the rock, as will be seen from Plate V. Agreeably to appointment,
she had brought off six blocks of granite, for the purpose of making an
experiment regarding the landing of the stones on the rock. She also
had in tow the praam, or decked boat, brought from Leith astern of the
Pharos, of which mention has already been made. This boat, in smooth
water, could carry about six or seven tons upon deck.

[Sidenote: Various suggestions about landing the stones.]

The writer had looked forward to the trial of landing weighty materials
upon the rock, as a matter which was to determine an important point
in the operations of the Bell Rock light-house, and which could hardly
be resolved by any other means than actual trial. This part of the
operation had always been a matter of the greatest uncertainty with
those conversant in such matters, and it became essential to determine
the point at this period, by actual trial, before proceeding to the
preparation of the craft and apparatus requisite for the works of next
season, which it would not have been safe or prudent to rest upon
doubtful hypothesis. In speculating upon this point, some had suggested
that each particular stone should be floated to the rock, with a
cork-buoy attached to it, while others would convert the float into an
air-tank for this purpose; a third proposed to sail over the rock at
high water, in a vessel of a flat construction, and drop the stones
one after another, while under way, or at anchor on the rock. Others
took up a still more extraordinary view of the case, and proposed to
build so much of the Light-house ashore, in a kind of coffer-dam or
vessel, as would raise the building to the level of the highest tide,
and having previously prepared the rock for its reception, they would
scuttle the vessel, and settle this ponderous mass, weighing perhaps
1000 tons, at once upon the rock. But it were endless to follow the
various conceptions, even of men of experience, upon subjects of this
kind. Though some of these propositions were ingeniously conceived, yet
they could not be carried into effect in such a situation as the Bell
Rock. Taking into view the uncertain state of the weather, the brittle
nature of stone, when worked to a delicate edge and formed into angular
points,--and, above all, considering the disadvantages that would
attend the loss, even of a single stone, by the unavoidable delay it
would occasion to the work, which might even in some instances hazard
a great part of the building,--the writer judged it safest to keep the
vessels that were to bring the stones from the workyard at moorings,
laid down at a convenient distance from the rock, so as to enable them
to clear it, in case of drifting. He also determined, as the safest
method, that their cargoes should be unloaded at these moorings, laid
on decked praam-boats, and towed to the rock by the landing-master’s
crew, at low water, when the artificers were at work, and ready to lay
and secure the stones in their places on the building. To put this to
the test of actual experiment, the trial praam-boat had been built, and
the six rough blocks of stone were brought to the rock.

[Sidenote: Experiment of landing six blocks of Granite.]

The middle part of this day was occupied by the writer on board of the
Smeaton, at her moorings, where he carefully attended to the process
of bringing the praam alongside, fixing her head and stern-ropes, and
stationing the seamen at their respective posts, for the purpose of
landing this small, but, in his view, important cargo. The mode by
which the stones were taken out of the Smeaton’s hold, and lowered on
the praam’s deck, will be understood from Plate XI. This was done by
means of a gaff-boom, which traversed upon the Smeaton’s mast, with
the necessary tackles for guying it. An essential part of this tackle
was a _travelling-crance_, or ring of iron, by which the stone might
be lifted either at the extremities or at the central parts of the
boom, as best suited its position in the ship’s hold, or its intended
place on the praam’s deck. The length of this gaff-boom was thirteen
feet, being sufficient for lowering the stone upon the praam. Another
part of this apparatus, for lifting the stone, was a _winch_, fixed
before the Smeaton’s mast, consisting of a wheel two feet in diameter,
worked by a pinion. The stone being raised from the vessel’s hold,
was laid on her deck, in order to shift the crance tackle to the
extremity of the gaff-boom. The chief charge of the stone was then
taken by the landing-master, till it was laid on the praam’s deck,
landed on the rock, and ultimately delivered over to the foreman
builder. In the act of working this apparatus, one man was placed at
each of the guy-tackles, who also assisted at the purchase-tackle for
raising the stone; and one of the ablest and most active of the crew
was appointed to hold on the end of the tackle-fall or purchase, which
often required all his strength, and his utmost agility in letting go,
for the purpose of lowering the stone at the instant when the word
“Lower” was heard. Much depended upon the promptitude with which this
part of the operation was performed, in a rolling sea, as our nautical
readers will readily understand. For this purpose, the man who held
the end of the tackle placed himself before the mast in a sitting, but
more frequently in a lying posture, with his feet stretched under the
winch, and abutting against the mast, as, by this means, he was enabled
to exert his greatest strength. The signal being given by the men in
the hold, that the Lewis-bat was fixed into the stone, and the tackle
hooked, every man took his post. If the stone was very weighty, the two
men who were to receive it on board of the praam, assisted in working
the purchase, till the stone was got out of the hold, to be laid upon
deck, when the word “Lower” was given, in an audible and stern tone
of voice. After the _traveller_ was shifted upon the gaff boom, the
praam-men returned to their post, and the stone was again lifted to a
sufficient height, to clear the vessel’s gunwale, when great attention
became necessary in working the guy-tackles, till the stone was brought
over the praam’s deck, and the watchword “Lower” given, if possible,
with greater force than before. The tackles were then unhooked, and in
this manner the operation proceeded until the stones were got on board
of the praam-boat.

This description may seem particular; but the reason will appear
obvious, when it is recollected, that the landing of the materials has
been considered one of the most nice and difficult parts of seamanship,
and on which the best informed seamen were unable to say how it might
answer, without great risk to the crew, and damage to the stones, and
even occasionally losing them between the ship and the praam-boat.
Both vessels being afloat, and riding in the open sea, at the distance
of about a quarter of a mile from the Bell Rock, their motion was
instantly communicated to the landing-gaff, and so to the stone in the
tackle. The six blocks of granite having been placed upon the praam’s
deck, she was towed to a floating-buoy, where she was made fast, until
the proper time of tide, for taking her into one of the creeks of the

[Sidenote: Stones first landed on the Rock.]

At a quarter past 4 P. M., the boats, with the artificers, left the
floating-light, and the work of the evening tide commenced at a quarter
before 5. The sailors having previously decorated the ships and the
praam-boat with flags, she was towed to the rock by two boats. The
writer having resolved personally to attend the whole progress of
this experiment went on board of the praam-boat, when she entered
the eastern creek, where the foreman builder, at the head of the
artificers, gave three hearty cheers. As the praam had not water to
float her so far up the creek as the site of the building, her cargo
was delivered upon Smith’s Ledge, on the north side of this creek, as
marked on Plate VI. In the present unprepared state of the machinery
and implements upon the rock, the stones, in the present case, were
raised with pinches, and pushed ashore upon planks. The whole of this
experiment succeeded to the writer’s utmost expectation, who was thus
led to conclude, that the materials might be landed with much more
expedition and certainty than he had previously supposed. All hands
spontaneously collected to witness the landing of the first stone,
which had no sooner touched the rock, than other three cheers were
given, and, on this occasion, a glass of rum was served out by the
steward. Having continued two hours upon the rock this evening, the
artificers left it at 7, and returned to the floating-light, while the
landing-master’s crew towed the praam-boat off to the Smeaton, that she
might be taken to Arbroath, having completed all that was intended with
her, this season.

[Sidenote: 1807, September.]

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 2d.]

[Sidenote: First mode of attaching the vessels to their moorings.]

The floating-light’s bell rung this morning at half-past 4 o’clock, as
a signal for the boats to be got ready, and the landing took place at
half-past 5. In passing the Smeaton, at her moorings near the rock,
her boat followed with eight additional artificers who had come from
Arbroath with her at last trip, but there being no room for them in
the floating-light’s boats, they had continued on board. The weather
did not look very promising in the morning, the wind blowing pretty
fresh from W.SW.; and had it not been that the writer calculated
upon having a vessel so much at command, in all probability he would
not have ventured to land. The Smeaton rode at what sailors call a
_salvagee_, with a cross-head made fast to the floating-buoy. This
kind of attachment was found to be more convenient, than the mode of
passing the hawser through the ring of the buoy, when the vessel was to
be made fast. She had then only to be steered very close to the buoy,
when the salvagee was laid hold of with a boat-hook, and the _bite_ of
the hawser thrown over the cross-head, instead of being obliged to put
out the boat, in order to pass the rope through the ring of the buoy.
But the salvagee, by this method, was always left at the buoy, and was,
of course, more liable to chaff and wear than a hawser passed through
the ring, which could be wattled with canvas, and shifted at pleasure.
The salvagee and cross method is, however, much practised; but the
experience of this morning showed it to be very unsuitable for vessels
riding in an exposed situation, for any length of time.

[Sidenote: Smeaton breaks adrift from her moorings.]

Soon after the artificers landed, they commenced work; but the wind
coming to blow hard, the Smeaton’s boat and crew, who had brought their
complement of eight men to the rock, went off to examine her riding
ropes, and see that they were in proper order. The boat had no sooner
reached the vessel than she went adrift, carrying the boat along with
her, and both had even got to a considerable distance before this
situation of things was observed, every one being so intent upon his
own particular duty, that the boat had not been seen leaving the rock.
As it blew hard, the crew with much difficulty set the mainsail upon
the Smeaton, with a view to work her up to the buoy, and again lay hold
of the moorings. By the time that she was got round to make a tack
towards the rock, she had drifted at least three miles to leeward, with
the praam-boat astern; and having both the wind and a tide against
her, the writer perceived, with no little anxiety, that she could not
possibly return to the rock till long after its being overflowed; for,
owing to the anomaly of the tides formerly noticed, the Bell Rock is
completely under water before the ebb abates to the offing.

[Sidenote: Perilous situation of those left on the Rock.]

In this perilous predicament, indeed, he found himself placed between
hope and despair,--but certainly the latter was by much the most
predominant feeling of his mind,--situate upon a sunken rock in the
middle of the ocean, which, in the progress of the flood-tide, was to
be laid under water to the depth of at least twelve feet in a stormy
sea. There were this morning thirty-two persons in all upon the rock,
with only two boats, whose complement, even in good weather, did not
exceed twenty-four sitters; but, to row to the floating-light with so
much wind, and in so heavy a sea, a complement of eight men for each
boat, was as much as could, with propriety, be attempted, so that,
in this way, about one-half of our number was unprovided for. Under
these circumstances, had the writer ventured to dispatch one of the
boats in expectation of either working the Smeaton sooner up towards
the rock, or in hopes of getting her boat brought to our assistance,
this must have given an immediate alarm to the artificers, each of
whom would have insisted upon taking to his own boat, and leaving the
eight artificers belonging to the Smeaton to their chance. Of course, a
scuffle might have ensued, and it is hard to say, in the ardour of men
contending for life, where it might have ended. It has even been hinted
to the writer, that a party of the _pickmen_ were determined to keep
exclusively to their own boat against all hazards.

The unfortunate circumstance of the Smeaton and her boat having
drifted, was, for a considerable time, only known to the writer, and
to the landing-master, who removed to the farther point of the rock,
where he kept his eye steadily upon the progress of the vessel. While
the artificers were at work, chiefly in sitting or kneeling postures,
excavating the rock, or boring with the jumpers, and while their
numerous hammers, and the sound of the smith’s anvil continued, the
situation of things did not appear so awful. In this state of suspense,
with almost certain destruction at hand, the water began to rise upon
those who were at work on the lower parts of the sites of the Beacon
and Light-house. From the run of sea upon the rock, the forge fire
was also sooner extinguished this morning than usual, and the volumes
of smoke having ceased, objects in every direction became visible
from all parts of the rock. After having had about three hours work,
the men began, pretty generally, to make towards their respective
boats for their jackets and stockings, when, to their astonishment,
instead of three, they found only two boats, the third being adrift
with the Smeaton. Not a word was uttered by any one, but all appeared
to be silently calculating their numbers, and looking to each other
with evident marks of perplexity depicted in their countenances. The
landing-master, conceiving that blame might be attached to him for
allowing the boat to leave the rock, still kept at a distance. At
this critical moment, the author was standing upon an elevated part
of Smith’s Ledge, where he endeavoured to mark the progress of the
Smeaton, not a little surprised that her crew did not cut the praam
adrift, which greatly retarded her way, and amazed that some effort
was not making to bring at least the boat, and attempt our relief. The
workmen looked steadfastly upon the writer, and turned occasionally
towards the vessel, still far to leeward. All this passed in the most
perfect silence, and the melancholy solemnity of the group made an
impression never to be effaced from his mind.

[Sidenote: Pilot boat accidentally comes to our relief.]

The writer had all along been considering of various
schemes,--providing the men could be kept under command,--which might
be put in practice for the general safety, in hopes that the Smeaton
might be able to pick up the boats to leeward, when they were obliged
to leave the rock. He was, accordingly, about to address the artificers
on the perilous nature of their circumstances, and to propose, That
all hands should unstrip their upper clothing, when the higher parts
of the rock were laid under water; that the seamen should remove every
unnecessary weight and encumbrance from the boats; that a specified
number of men should go into each boat, and that the remainder should
hang by the gunwales, while the boats were to be rowed gently towards
the Smeaton, as the course to the Pharos or floating-light lay rather
to windward of the rock. But when he attempted to speak, his mouth
was so parched, that his tongue refused utterance, and he now learned
by experience that the saliva is as necessary as the tongue itself
for speech. He then turned to one of the pools on the rock and lapped
a little water, which produced immediate relief. But what was his
happiness, when, on rising from this unpleasant beverage, some one
called out “A boat, a boat!” and, on looking around, at no great
distance, a large boat was seen through the haze making towards the
rock. This at once enlivened and rejoiced every heart. The timeous
visitor proved to be James Spink, the Bell Rock pilot, who had come
express from Arbroath with letters. Spink had, for some time, seen the
Smeaton, and had even supposed, from the state of the weather, that
all hands were on board of her, till he approached more nearly, and
observed people upon the rock; but not supposing that the assistance
of his boat was necessary to carry the artificers off the rock, he
anchored on the lee-side and began to fish, waiting, as usual, till the
letters were sent for, as the pilot-boat was too large and unwieldy
for approaching the rock, when there was any roughness or run of the
sea at the entrance of the landing creeks.

[Sidenote: The boats have a rough passage from the rock.]

Upon this fortunate change of circumstances, sixteen of the artificers
were sent, at two trips, in one of the boats, with instructions
for Spink to proceed with them to the floating-light. This being
accomplished, the remaining sixteen followed in the two boats belonging
to the service of the rock. Every one felt the most perfect happiness
at leaving the Bell Rock this morning, though a very hard and even
dangerous passage to the floating-light still awaited us, as the wind,
by this time, had encreased to a pretty hard gale, accompanied with a
considerable swell of sea. The boats left the rock about 9, but did not
reach the vessel till 12 o’clock noon, after a most disagreeable and
fatiguing passage of three hours. Every one was as completely drenched
in water as if he had been dragged astern of the boats. The writer in
particular, being at the helm, found, on getting on board, that his
face and ears were completely coated with a thin film of salt from the
sea spray, which broke constantly over the bows of the boat. After much
baling of water and severe work at the oars, the three boats reached
the floating-light, where some new difficulties occurred in getting on
board in safety, owing partly to the exhausted state of the men, and
partly to the violent rolling of the vessel.

[Sidenote: Smeaton bears away for Arbroath.]

As the tide flowed, it was expected that the Smeaton would have got
to windward, but, seeing that all was safe, after tacking for several
hours, and making little progress, she bore away for Arbroath, with
the praam boat. As there was now too much wind for the pilot-boat to
return to Arbroath, she was made fast astern of the floating-light, and
the crew remained on board till next day, when the weather moderated.
There can be very little doubt, that the appearance of James Spink
with his boat, on this critical occasion, was the means of preventing
the loss of lives at the rock this morning. When these circumstances,
some years afterwards, came to the knowledge of the Board, a small
pension was ordered to our faithful pilot, then in his seventieth year;
and he still continues to wear the uniform clothes and badge of the
Light-house service.

[Sidenote: Indispensable utility of the Beacon-house.]

The experience of this day’s hard passage to the floating-light
strongly impressed the writer with the inconveniency and danger
arising from the want of a proper tender, which could be cast loose
at pleasure, and brought to the lee-side of the rock, and could, at
all times, be moored nearer than it would have been safe or proper to
have risked a vessel of the description of the floating-light. Another
circumstance, no less deeply interesting to the safety of those on the
rock, was the erection of the beacon-house, as a place of refuge in
cases like the present. Here the writer could not help congratulating
himself not only upon the near prospect of completing this work, but
also on the perseverance with which he had maintained the indispensable
necessity of the erection of the beacon. He was aware of the well
grounded fears for the safety of all concerned, in the event of its
being washed away by the sea; but, without such an erection on the Bell
Rock, it is impossible to describe the continual hazard which must have
attended the undertaking, or to determine the period when works so
peculiarly situate, and especially so low in the water, might have been
brought to a conclusion.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: Eighteen of the artificers decline embarking for the rock.]

[Sidenote: The boats proceed with eight.]

The bell rung this morning at 5 o’clock, but the writer must
acknowledge, from the circumstances of yesterday, that its sound was
extremely unwelcome. This appears also to have been the feelings of the
artificers, for when they came to be mustered, out of twenty-six, only
eight, besides the foreman and seamen, appeared upon deck, to accompany
the writer to the rock. Such are the baneful effects of any thing like
misfortune or accident connected with a work of this description. The
use of argument to persuade the men to embark, in cases of this kind,
would have been out of place, as it is not only discomfort, or even
the risk of the loss of a limb, but life itself, that becomes the
question. The boats, notwithstanding the thinness of our ranks, left
the vessel at half-past 5. The rough weather of yesterday having proved
but a summer’s gale, the wind came to-day in gentle breezes, yet the
atmosphere being cloudy, it had not a very favourable appearance. The
boats reached the rock at 6 A. M., and the eight artificers who landed,
were employed in clearing out the bat-holes for the beacon-house, and
had a very prosperous tide of four hours work, being the longest yet
experienced by half an hour.

The boats left the rock again at 10 o’clock, and the weather having
cleared up as we drew near the vessel, the eighteen artificers who
had remained on board were observed upon deck; but as the boats
approached, they sought their way below, being quite ashamed of their
conduct. This was the only instance of refusal to go to the rock which
occurred during the whole progress of the work, excepting that of the
four men who declined working upon Sunday, a case which the writer
did not conceive to be at all analogous to the present. It may here
be mentioned, much to the credit of these four men, that they stood
foremost in embarking for the rock this morning. Indeed, it seemed
quite evident, that the backwardness of the artificers to-day arose
from certain doubting expressions about the state of the weather, made
through the inadvertency of some of the nautical people on board, in
allusion to the state of the weather of yesterday.

A second landing was made in the evening tide, at a quarter past 6,
with twenty of the artificers, six having been left on board for want
of sitting-room in the boats; but as the work was not carried on with
torch-light, till after the erection of the beacon-house, the boats
left the rock again at a quarter past 7, the men having been employed
chiefly at the bat-holes of the beacon-house.

[Sidenote: Friday, 4th.]

All hands, twenty-six in number, landed this morning, having been
assisted by the Smeaton’s boat, as she had again returned from Arbroath
to her moorings at the rock. After three hours’ work, the boats
returned to the Pharos at a quarter past 10, leaving eight hands on
board the Smeaton, as formerly, which preserved a convenient complement
of sitters in the other two boats.

[Sidenote: Captain Pool’s account of the drifting of the Smeaton.]

From the late accident of the Smeaton’s drifting, precautionary
measures were taken to impress upon Captain Pool, and his mate Mr
Macurich, that their ship was not once to be put in competition with
the safety of the people on the rock. Orders were also more strictly
enforced upon the landing-master, that on no occasion whatever should
the boats attending the rock be permitted to leave it, without
carrying along with them the complement of men which they respectively
brought to the rock. Upon examining the master of the Smeaton as to
the circumstances of his vessel breaking adrift, it appeared that the
salvagee had been chaffed, and that it had given way by the excessive
motion of the vessel. Being also examined as to his intentions with
regard to the people left on the rock on the 2d instant, he stated,
that, when tacking the ship, he had seen the Pilot-boat a considerable
time before it was likely that she could be seen at the rock; and that
he was just about to cut the praam adrift, when he got sight of the
boat. After setting sail on the Smeaton, his intentions were to try a
tack or two, to see if she gained to windward, but if, on trial, she
appeared to lose way, his intentions were to lash the helm to leeward,
and leaving the boy on board of the vessel, he was to man the boat
and make towards our relief. Captain Pool, in concluding his account
of this matter, added, that “both ship and praam should have gone to
the d----l, rather than that the people upon the rock should have been
left to perish.” But he stated, that he was in much confusion for
a time;--indeed, until he got sight of the pilot boat, that he was
almost in a state of distraction, he and his ship’s company being in
a continual wrangle about what was best to be done in so critical a
situation. This accident put an end to the mode of riding at the Bell
Rock floating buoys by a salvagee and cross-head, the hawser being in
future passed through the ring of the buoy, and the end of it taken on
board of the vessel; which was found to be much more safe, though not
quite so expeditious as the other.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 5th.]

The wind having shifted to N.NW., the weather had a favourable
appearance this morning. But on landing at the rock at 7 A. M., there
was a considerable swell from the eastward, so that the boats had some
difficulty in approaching the eastern creek. The artificers, however,
had a most excellent tide’s work, having continued four hours at work,
or till 11 o’clock. The boring and preparations for the Beacon-house
being nearly completed, only twelve of the artificers were employed at
this work, while fourteen were excavating and preparing the site of the

[Sidenote: Ascertain the comparative level of the site of the building.]

This being the third day after new moon, it was estimated the lowest
ebb of the present spring-tides. The writer therefore caused a part
of the site of the building to be reduced to what he considered a
medium level of the whole. This he compared with low water-mark, as
noted by the landing-master, at the moment when the tide ceased to
ebb and began to flow. An assistant with a rod having been stationed
at low water-mark previously determined, another was placed at the
spot ascertained to be the medium level of the site of the building;
a spirit-level was then set at a convenient position between these
upright rods, when the writer found that the medium height of the
site of the building, in the present rough and irregular state of
its surface, was about three feet three inches above low water-mark
of spring tides. By further observation, it was also found, that
the highest part of the foundation of the building, in its present
unprepared state, was six feet above low water-mark. This highest
part consisted of a large rounded mass, which declined gradually on
all sides, excepting on the north-east, where it was more abrupt. The
writer had originally some thought of taking advantage of this part of
the rock, by connecting it, after Mr Smeaton’s plan, with the lower
courses of the building. But after working for some time, with this
object in view, it was found to contain several large fissures, which
rendered it more advisable to clear away the whole, and reduce the site
of the building to a uniform level.

[Sidenote: Full complement of Floating Buoys moored.]

Finding it impossible, with any degree of safety, to carry to the
floating-light, in the two boats belonging to this ship, more than
eighteen artificers, and four seamen, together with the landing-master,
the foreman and the writer, eight of the present complement of men
were lodged on board of the Smeaton, and when she went to Arbroath for
water and fuel, they necessarily accompanied her. Before sailing, she
laid down a fourth mushroom-anchor, and mooring-chain, with a floating
buoy, for the use of the praam-boat. It was not at all likely that
there would be much use for so many sets of moorings for the operations
of this season; but it was desirable to have the probable number laid
down that might ultimately be required for the works, in order that
the fitness of their respective situations might be ascertained,
before they came to be wanted for the purposes of the building. This
last buoy was laid down in four fathoms water, with twelve fathoms of
chain, at the distance of about ninety fathoms, in a N.E. direction
from the rock. The other three buoys were respectively moored at
greater distances from the rock, in depths varying from seven to eleven
fathoms, the mushroom anchors lying on a hard rocky bottom.

[Sidenote: Floating-Light rides out a heavy gale of wind.]

As before noticed, the work could not be carried on by torch-light with
any degree of safety, till the Beacon was erected, and the tide fell
rather late for landing this evening. Although the weather would have
admitted of this, yet the swell of the sea, observable in the morning,
still continued to increase. It was so far fortunate that a landing was
not attempted, for at 8 o’clock the wind shifted to E. SE. and at 10
it had become a hard gale, when fifty fathoms of the floating-light’s
hempen cable were veered out. The gale still increasing, the ship
rolled and laboured excessively, and at midnight eighty fathoms of
cable were veered out; while the sea continued to strike the vessel
with a degree of force which had not before been experienced.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 6th.]

During the last night there was little rest on board of the Pharos,
and day-light, though anxiously wished for, brought no relief, as the
gale continued with unabated violence. The sea struck so hard upon
the vessel’s bows, that it rose in great quantities, or in “green
seas,” as the sailors termed it, which were carried by the wind as
far aft as the quarter-deck, and not unfrequently over the stern of
the ship altogether. It fell occasionally so heavily on the skylight
of the writer’s cabin, though so far aft as to be within five feet of
the helm, that the glass was broken to pieces before the dead-light
could be got into its place, so that the water poured down in great
quantities. In shutting out the water, the admission of light was
prevented, and in the morning all continued in the most comfortless
state of darkness. About 10 o’clock A. M., the wind shifted to NE., and
blew, if possible, harder than before, and it was accompanied by a much
heavier swell of sea; when it was judged advisable to give the ship
more cable. In the course of the gale, the part of the cable in the
hause-hole had been so often shifted, that nearly the whole length of
one of her hempen cables, of 120 fathoms, had been veered out, besides
the chain-moorings. The cable for its preservation, was also carefully
served or wattled with pieces of canvass round the windlass, and with
leather well greased in the hause-hole. In this state things remained
during the whole day. Every sea which struck the vessel,--and the seas
followed each other in close succession,--causing her to shake, and
all on board occasionally to tremble. At each of these strokes of the
sea, the rolling and pitching of the vessel ceased for a time, and her
motion was felt as if she had either broke adrift before the wind, or
were in the act of sinking; but when another sea came, she ranged up
against it with great force, and this became the regular intimation of
our being still riding at anchor.

[Sidenote: State of the vessel during the gale.]

About 11 o’clock, the writer, with some difficulty, got out of bed,
but in attempting to dress, he was thrown twice upon the floor, at the
opposite side of the cabin. In an undressed state, he made shift to get
about half way up the companion-stairs, with an intention to observe
the state of the sea and of the ship upon deck, but he no sooner looked
over the companion, than a heavy sea struck the vessel, which fell on
the quarter-deck, and rushed down stairs into the officers’ cabin,
in so considerable a quantity, that it was found necessary to lift
one of the scuttles in the floor, to let the water into the limbers
of the ship, as it dashed from side to side in such a manner, as to
run into the lower tier of beds. Having been foiled in this attempt,
and being completely wetted, he again, got below and went to bed. In
this state of the weather the seamen had to move about the necessary
or indispensable duties of the ship, with the most cautious use both
of hands and feet, while it required all the art of the landsman to
keep within the precincts of his bed. The writer even found himself so
much tossed about, that it became necessary, in some measure, to shut
himself in bed, in order to avoid being thrown into the floor. Indeed,
such was the motion of the ship, that it seemed wholly impracticable
to remain in any other than a lying posture. On deck the most stormy
aspect presented itself; while below all was wet and comfortless.

About 2 o’clock P. M., a great alarm was given throughout the ship,
from the effects of a very heavy sea which struck her, and almost
filled the waist, pouring down into the births below, through every
chink and crevice of the hatches and sky-lights. From the motion of the
vessel being thus suddenly deadened or checked, and from the flowing in
of the water above, it is believed there was not an individual on board
who did not think, at the moment, that the vessel had foundered, and
was in the act of sinking. The writer could withstand this no longer,
and as soon as she again began to range to the sea, he determined to
make another effort to get upon deck. In the first instance, however,
he groped his way in darkness from his own cabin through the births of
the officers, where all was quietness. He next entered the galley and
other compartments occupied by the artificers: here also all was shut
up in darkness, the fire having been drowned out in the early part of
the gale: several of the artificers were employed in prayer, repeating
psalms, and other devotional exercises in a full tone of voice: others
protesting, that if they should fortunately get once more on shore,
no one should ever see them afloat again. With the assistance of the
landing-master, the writer made his way holding on step by step, among
the numerous impediments which lay in the way. Such was the creaking
noise of the bulk-heads or partitions, the dashing of the water, and
the whistling noise of the winds, that it was hardly possible to break
in upon such a confusion of sounds. In one or two instances, anxious
and repeated inquiries were made by the artificers, as to the state
of things upon deck, to which the Captain made the usual answer, that
it could not blow long in this way, and that we must soon have better
weather. The next birth in succession, moving forward in the ship,
was that allotted for the seamen. Here the scene was considerably
different. Having reached the middle of this darksome birth, without
its inmates being aware of any intrusion, the writer had the
consolation of remarking, that although they talked of bad weather,
and the cross accidents of the sea, yet the conversation was carried
on in that sort of tone and manner which bespoke an ease and composure
of mind, highly creditable to them, and pleasing to him. The writer
immediately accosted the seamen about the state of the ship. To these
inquiries they replied, that the vessel being light, and having but
little hold of the water, no top rigging, with excellent ground-tackle,
and every thing being fresh and new, they felt perfect confidence in
their situation.

It being impossible to open any of the hatches in the fore part of
the ship, in communicating with the deck, the watch was changed by
passing through the several births to the companion-stair leading to
the quarter-deck. The writer, therefore, made the best of his way aft,
and on a second attempt to look out, he succeeded, and saw indeed an
astonishing sight. The seas, or waves, appeared to be ten or fifteen
feet in height of unbroken water, and every approaching billow seemed
as if it would overwhelm our vessel, but she continued to rise upon
the waves, and to fall between the seas in a very wonderful manner. It
seemed to be only those seas which caught her in the act of rising,
which struck her with so much violence, and threw such quantities of
water aft. On deck there was only one solitary individual looking out,
to give the alarm, in the event of the ship breaking from her moorings.
The seaman on watch continued only two hours; he who kept watch at this
time, was a tall slender man of a black complexion; he had no great
coat nor over-all of any kind, but was simply dressed in his ordinary
jacket and trowsers: his hat was tied under his chin with a napkin,
and he stood aft the foremast, to which he had lashed himself with a
gasket or small rope round his waist, to prevent his falling upon deck,
or being washed overboard. When the writer looked up, he appeared to
smile, which afforded a farther symptom of the confidence of the crew
in their ship. This person on the watch was as completely wetted as if
he had been drawn through the sea, which was given as a reason for his
not putting on a great coat, that he might wet as few of his clothes
as possible, and have a dry shift when he went below. Upon deck, every
thing that was moveable was out of sight, having either been stowed
below, previous to the gale, or been washed overboard. Some trifling
parts of the quarter boards were damaged by the breach of the sea; and
one of the boats upon deck was about one-third full of water, the
oyle-hole or drain having been accidentally stopped up,--and part of
her gunwale had received considerable injury. These observations were
hastily made, and not without occasionally shutting the companion, or
covering up the stair-case, to avoid being wetted by the successive
seas which broke over the bows, and fell upon different parts of the
deck, according to the impetus with which the waves struck the vessel.
By this time it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and the gale,
which had now continued with unabated force for 27 hours, had not the
least appearance of going off.

[Sidenote: Consultation about the probable event of her breaking

In the dismal prospect of undergoing another night like the last, and
being in imminent hazard of parting from our cable, the writer thought
it necessary to advise with the master and officers of the ship as to
the probable event of the vessel’s drifting from her moorings. They
severally gave it as their opinion, that we had now every chance of
riding out the gale, which, in all probability, could not continue with
the same fury many hours longer; and that even if she should part from
her anchor, the storm-sails had been laid to hand, and could be bent in
a very short time. They further stated, that from the direction of the
wind being NE., she would sail up the Frith of Forth to Leith Roads.
But if this should appear doubtful, after passing the Island and Light
of May, it might be advisable at once to steer for Tyningham Sands,
on the western side of Dunbar, and there run the vessel ashore. If
this should happen at the time of high-water, or during the ebbing of
the tide, they were of opinion, from the flatness and strength of the
floating-light, that no danger would attend her taking the ground, even
with a very heavy sea. The writer seeing the confidence which these
gentlemen possessed with regard to the situation of things, and their
knowledge and ability, should the ship break adrift, found himself as
much relieved with this conversation, as he had previously been with
the seeming indifference of the forecastle-men, and the smile of the
watch upon deck, though literally lashed to the foremast. From this
time he felt himself almost perfectly at ease; at any rate he was
entirely resigned to the ultimate result.

[Sidenote: The gale takes off.]

About 6 o’clock in the evening, the ship’s company was heard moving
upon deck, which, on the present occasion, was rather the cause of
alarm. The writer accordingly rung his bell to know what was the
matter, when he was informed by the steward, that the weather looked
considerably better, and that the men upon deck were endeavouring to
ship the smoke-funnel of the galley, that the people might get some
meat. This was a more favourable account than had been anticipated.
During the last twenty-one hours he himself had not only had nothing to
eat, but he had almost never passed a thought on the subject. Upon the
mention of a change of weather, he sent the steward to learn how the
artificers felt, and on his return he stated that they now seemed to be
all very happy, since the cook had begun to light the galley-fire, and
make preparations for the suet-pudding of Sunday, which was the only
dish to be attempted for the mess, from the ease with which it could
both be cooked and served up.

The principal change felt upon the ship, as the wind abated, was her
increased rolling motion, but the pitching was much diminished, and
now hardly any sea came farther aft than the foremast; but she rolled
so extremely hard, as frequently to dip and take in water over the
gunwales and rails in the waist, though, as before noticed, she was
in light ballast trim. By 9 o’clock, all hands had been refreshed by
the exertions of the cook and steward, and were happy in the prospect
of the worst of the gale being over. The usual complement of men was
also now set on watch, and more quietness was experienced throughout
the ship. Although the previous night had been a very restless one,
it had not the effect of inducing repose in the writer’s birth on the
succeeding night, for having been so much tossed about in bed, during
the last thirty hours, he found no easy spot to turn to, and his body
was all sore to the touch, which ill accorded with the unyielding
materials with which his bed-place was surrounded.

[Sidenote: Monday, 7th.]

[Sidenote: Appearance of the sea upon the Bell Rock.]

This morning about 8 o’clock, the writer was agreeably surprised to
see the scuttle of his cabin sky-light removed, and the bright rays
of the sun admitted. Although the ship continued to roll excessively,
and the sea was still running very high, yet the ordinary business on
board seemed to be going forward on deck. It was impossible to steady
a telescope, so as to look minutely at the progress of the waves, and
trace their breach upon the Bell Rock, but the height to which the
cross-running waves rose in sprays, when they met each other, was
truly grand, and the continued roar and noise of the sea was very
perceptible to the ear. To estimate the height of the sprays at forty
or fifty feet, would surely be within the mark. Those of the workmen
who were not much afflicted with sea-sickness, came upon deck, and
the wetness below being dried up, the cabins were again brought into a
habitable state. Every one seemed to meet as if after a long absence,
congratulating his neighbour upon the return of good weather. Little
could be said as to the comfort of the vessel, but after riding out
such a gale, no one felt the least doubt or hesitation as to the safety
and good condition of her moorings. The master and mate were extremely
anxious, however, to heave in the hempen cable, and see the state of
the clinch or iron ring of the chain-cable. But the vessel rolled at
such a rate, that the seamen could not possibly keep their feet at the
windlass, nor work the hand-spokes, though it had been several times
attempted since the gale took off.

[Sidenote: Floating-Light breaks adrift.]

About 12 noon, however, the vessel’s motion was observed to be
considerably less, and the sailors were enabled to walk upon deck with
some degree of freedom. But, to the astonishment of every one, it was
soon discovered that the floating-light was adrift! The windlass was
instantly manned, and the men soon gave out that there was no strain
upon the cable. The mizzen sail, which was bent for the occasional
purpose of making the vessel ride more easily to the tide, was
immediately set, and the other sails were also hoisted in a short time,
when, in no small consternation, we bore away, about one mile to the
south-westward of the former station, and there let go the best bower
anchor and cable in twenty fathoms water, to ride until the swell of
the sea should fall, when it might be practicable to grapple for the
moorings, and find a better anchorage for the ship.

[Sidenote: Cable supposed to have been cut by a piece of wreck.]

As soon as the deck could be cleared, the cable-end was hove up,
which had parted at the distance of about fifty fathoms from the
chain-moorings. On examining the cable, it was found to be considerably
chafed, but where the separation took place, it appeared to be
worn through, or cut shortly off. How to account for this would be
difficult, as the ground, though rough and gravelly, did not, after
much sounding, appear to contain any irregular parts. It was therefore
conjectured, that the cable must have hooked some piece of wreck, as it
did not appear, from the state of the wind and tide, that the vessel
could have _fouled_ her anchor, when she veered round with the wind,
which had shifted, in the course of the night, from NE. to N.NW. Be
this as it may, it was a circumstance quite out of the power of man to
prevent, as, until the ship drifted, it was found impossible to heave
up the cable. But what ought to have been the feeling of thankfulness
to that Providence which regulates and appoints the lot of man, when
it is considered, that if this accident had happened during the
storm, or in the night after the wind had shifted, the floating-light
must inevitably have gone ashore upon the Bell Rock. In short, it is
hardly possible to conceive any case more awfully distressing than our
situation would have been, or one more disastrous to the important
undertaking in which we were engaged.

In the present untoward state of things, the writer had chiefly to
regret the necessity of making a permanent change in the position of
the moorings of the floating-light, after her station had been publicly
advertised, and within a week of the time of exhibiting the light. It
had also become more evident that this vessel could not be continued
as a tender or store-ship for the work. The object of consideration,
therefore, was to place her in a situation where she would be most
useful to shipping. It was evident that she must now be stationed at
about double her former distance from the rock, or, instead of one
mile, that she must be moored upwards of two miles from it, on ground
formerly ascertained to have been good, but considered too distant from
the operations.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of manning the Floating-light.]

In the evening the Smeaton came off from Arbroath, with provisions and
necessaries for the work. There being little wind, and a heavy swell
in the sea, it was not safe that the vessels should come in contact
with each other. Mr Macurich, the mate, who came within hail, in the
Smeaton’s boat, informed us, that two seamen had come off to make up
the complement of the crew of the floating-light, and that they would
be brought on board the first opportunity. From the manner in which
this address was made, and the enquiry as to how we rode out the gale,
it was evident that the crew of the Smeaton were not aware that the
floating-light had shifted her place; nor, indeed, was this at all
obvious, unless by a particular observation made by the mariner’s
compass, in reference to the position of the rock.

The peculiarity of this service rendered it difficult to procure good
seamen to embark in it, and the original crew dropped off one after
another as the winter season began to advance; for as yet our naval
heroes had not shewn the possibility of remaining for months together,
even off an enemy’s coast. It was therefore found to be an extremely
difficult matter to get the crew of the floating-light recruited from
time to time; and, under the perplexity of our present situation,
it was some alleviation to be told that there were men voluntarily
offering their services.

In the course of this day the wind had veered from N.NW. to NE., but
the weather was mild, and the sea had fallen considerably, so that the
boat came alongside with the two seamen, and a supply of necessaries.
The Smeaton was then dispatched to Arbroath for another set of moorings
for the floating-light, in case of our not finding those from which she
had drifted. Letters were also dispatched to the Light-house Board,
intimating the particulars of the floating-light’s new ground, that
additional notice might be given to shipping.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: Floating-light anchored in her new station.]

The weather continued to be extremely agreeable, though the wind kept
shifting about. Having got every thing in readiness for moving to the
new station, which had again been carefully sounded, the floating-light
was got under way,--which the author had fondly hoped never to have
seen, till after her purpose as a temporary light had been supplied
by a permanent building upon the Bell Rock. At 9 o’clock A. M. the
best bower anchor was let go upon the new ground, in twenty fathoms
water, on clean sand mixed with fine silt or mud, appearing to be the
deposited matters borne along by the currents from the river Tay; the
Bell Rock bearing SE. ½ S. distant about 2½ miles.

[Sidenote: Monday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: It is found impracticable to land to-day.]

The Smeaton returned to Arbroath, after landing her dispatches; but the
wind and the swell of the sea having again increased, she was obliged
to remain in port till the 14th. As the floating-light still rode at
single anchor, it was often an anxious wish to have her once more
properly fixed with chain moorings; but, as yet, no opportunity had
occurred for recovering the old chain, and it took some time to prepare
a new one. The Smeaton having returned from Arbroath this morning, the
writer went on board of her, carrying with him all the artificers. At
6 an attempt was made to land, but the sea ran so heavily, and the
breakers rushed with such fury in every direction, that after rowing
all around the rock, the boats were obliged to return without success.
It deserves remark, however, that this was the first attempt to land
this season, in which it had been found impracticable, after actually
embarking in the boats.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 15th.]

[Sidenote: State of matters at the rock, after a lapse of ten days.]

This morning at 5 A. M., the bell rung as a signal for landing upon
the rock, a sound which, after a lapse of ten days, it is believed was
welcomed by every one on board. There being a heavy breach of sea at
the eastern creek, we landed, though not without difficulty, on the
western side, every one seeming more eager than another to get upon
the rock, and never did hungry men sit down to a hearty meal with more
appetite than the artificers began to pick the dulse from the rocks.
This marine plant had the effect of reviving the sickly, and seemed to
be no less relished by those who were more hardy.

While the water was ebbing, and the men were roaming in quest of their
favourite morsel, the writer was examining the effects of the storm
upon the forge, and loose apparatus left upon the rock. The six large
blocks of granite which had been landed, by way of experiment, on the
1st instant, were now removed from their places, and, by the force of
the sea, thrown over a rising ledge into a hole at the distance of
twelve or fifteen paces from the place on which they had been landed.
This was a pretty good evidence, both of the violence of the storm and
the agitation of the sea upon the rock. The safety of the smith’s forge
was always an object of essential regard. The ash-pan of the hearth
or fire-place, with its weighty cast-iron back, had been washed from
their places of supposed security: the chains of attachment had been
broken, and these ponderous articles were found at a very considerable
distance, in a hole on the western side of the rock; while the tools
and picks of the Aberdeen masons were scattered about in every
direction. It is, however, remarkable, that not a single article was
ultimately lost. A mushroom-anchor, weighing about 22 cwt., had been
driven from its station at some distance, and thrown upon the rock,
being found in one of the landing creeks. The floating-buoy being still
attached to it, had received no material damage, though it had been
chafed and was water-logged. This buoy, with its moorings, consisting
of 24 fathoms of chain, and the anchor, had been given up as lost, ever
since the gale; but just as the boats were about to leave the rock,
they were fortunately observed between two ledges of rock, by one of
the seamen.

[Sidenote: Work, this tide, continues only for one hour.]

After having been two hours and a half upon the rock this morning,
boats left it at a quarter past 8. At half-past 6 P. M., they again
returned; but the smith having fallen into the water in landing, got
the tinder so wetted, that he could not strike fire, and the work was
left off at 7, after one hour’s work, for want of sharp tools.--The
site of the beacon being now prepared, and the stanchion-holes
excavated, the mode of employing the artificers was reversed, only
four being occupied at the beacon works, and twelve in preparing the
foundation of the light-house.

[Sidenote: Floating-light first exhibited.]

This being the night on which the floating-light was advertised to
be lighted, it was accordingly exhibited, to the great joy of every
one. For, besides the benefit to be derived by shipping in general,
from this temporary light, it was also to be of great service to the
operations at the Bell Rock, as it became a point of reference for the
conveniency and safety of the light-house vessels, either in riding at
the buoys, or in cruising about the rock. The event of lighting up this
ship, was, therefore, ushered in with three hearty cheers, and a dram
was served out to all hands.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 16th.]

The weather continuing to be moderate, with gentle breezes from NW. to
N.NE., this morning the work commenced at the rock at half-past 6, and
the boats left it again at a quarter from 9, after the artificers had
been at work two hours and a half.

[Sidenote: Light-house Yacht becomes a Tender to the works.]

The writer was made happy to-day, by the return of the Light-house
Yacht, from a voyage to the Northern Light-houses. She had sailed
from the Bell Rock on the 5th of last month for the Orkneys, and had
passed the Western Islands to the Clyde, returning to the eastern
coast by the Forth and Clyde Canal, after having discharged stores
at the several Light-houses in her track. The arrival of this vessel
was a great relief, as she brought a set of moorings with her for the
floating-light, which still rode at single anchor. Having immediately
removed on board of this fine vessel of eighty-one tons register, the
artificers gladly followed, for, though they found themselves more
pinched for accommodation on board of the Yacht, and still more so in
the Smeaton; yet they greatly preferred either of these to the Pharos
or floating-light, on account of her rolling motion, though in all
respects fitted up for their conveniency.

[Sidenote: Artificers agree to remain at the rock after their
engagement had expired.]

The writer called them to the quarter-deck, and informed them that
having been one month afloat, in terms of their agreement, they
were now at liberty to return to the work-yard at Arbroath, if they
preferred this to continuing at the Bell Rock. But they replied, that,
in the prospect of soon getting the beacon erected upon the rock, and
having made a change from the floating-light, they were now perfectly
reconciled to their situation, and would remain afloat till the end
of the working season. This was considered a matter of the greatest
importance to the success of the work; for, from the circumstances of
the bad weather, and the drifting of the floating-light, it seemed
extremely doubtful but the whole of the workmen might have been induced
to go on shore, which would have deterred others from embarking in
this perilous service, at so advanced a period of the season. At all
events, it must have required no small trouble to have brought a new
set of men to expertness in the minutiæ of the traffic in boats, and
getting in and out of the vessels. Of those who had originally come off
to the work on the 17th of August, only one man, already alluded to,
who was a great martyr to sea-sickness, had returned to the work-yard.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: Accident happens to one of the boats.]

The wind was at NE. this morning, and though there were only light
airs, yet there was a pretty heavy swell coming ashore upon the rock.
The boats landed at half-past 7 o’clock A. M., at the creek on the
southern side of the rock, marked Port Hamilton in Plate VI., which
to-day was found to be the most accessible landing-place. But as one of
the boats was in the act of entering this creek, the seaman at the bow
oar, who had just entered the service, having inadvertently expressed
some fear, from a heavy sea which came rolling towards the boat, and
one of the artificers having at the same time looked round and missed
a stroke with his oar, such a preponderance was thus given to the
rowers upon the opposite side, that when the wave struck the boat, it
threw her upon a ledge of shelving rocks, where the water left her,
and she having _kanted_ to seaward, the next wave completely filled
her with water. After making considerable efforts, the boat was again
got afloat in the proper track of the creek, so that we landed without
any other accident than a complete ducking. This accident caused us to
lose some time; but, as the boats could not conveniently leave the rock
till flood-tide, and there being no possibility of getting a shift of
clothes, the artificers began with all speed to work, so as to bring
themselves into heat, while the writer, and his assistants, kept as
much as possible in motion. Having remained more than an hour upon the
rock, the boats left it at half-past 9; and after getting on board, the
writer recommended to the artificers, as the best mode of getting into
a state of comfort, to strip off their wet clothes, and go to bed for
an hour or two. No farther inconveniency was felt, and no one seemed to
complain of the affection called “catching cold.”

It was a standing order in the landing department, that every man
should use his greatest exertions, in giving the boats sufficient
force or velocity to preserve their steerage-way in entering the
respective creeks at the rock, that the contending seas might not have
the command of the boat at places where the free use of the oars could
not be had, on account of the surrounding rocks. The late accident,
accordingly, put all hands more upon their guard, as such an occurrence
might have proved fatal to all on board, under a very slight change of

[Sidenote: Friday, 18th.]

[Sidenote: Floating-light moored in her new station.]

The first object to be accomplished, with the assistance of the
Light-house Yacht, was to get the floating-light secured at her new
station, an operation which required the finest of weather. To-day, the
wind was at NE., and although moderate, it was, of all others, most
dreaded at the Bell Rock, the heavy gale of the 6th instant having
been from this direction. The writer, however, judged it advisable to
proceed with the laying down of the new moorings, and in case of any
accident by the slipping of the chain, as formerly, the artificers,
instead of going to the rock this tide, were kept on board, that the
seamen and all hands might be on the spot to render assistance. These
new moorings consisted of 40 fathoms of chain, made from iron-bars of
one inch square, with a cast-iron mushroom-anchor, weighing 1 ton 1
cwt. 2 qrs. 4 lb. This anchor and chain, were let down in a depth of
twenty-one fathoms, the Bell Rock being from the new station SE. ½
S., distant two and a half miles; Redhead N. by E., distant ten miles;
Arbroath N.NW., distant about ten miles; Fifeness SW. by W., distant
about eleven miles, and Isle of May SW. by S., distant sixteen miles.
The moorings having been laid down on this spot, a buoy was placed upon
them. The Yacht then took the floating-light in tow to her new station,
where she was made fast to the chain, with a new cable measuring
sixteen inches in circumference. This business was successfully
accomplished at about 2 o’clock P. M., after six hours of very hard

The first cables of the floating-light were of patent cordage, made of
the very best materials, and most beautifully laid by machinery. But
the sailors complained that these ropes were so stiff and unpliable,
that they could neither be got stowed in the hold, nor run freely out
of the hause-holes. These difficulties were also more felt with the
patent laid cables, after the weather became somewhat cold. It was,
therefore, found necessary to get a new cable, laid in the ordinary
way, for the winter months.

[Sidenote: Smeaton arrives with the beams of the Beacon in tow.]

Another important occurrence, connected with the operations of this
season, was the arrival of the Smeaton at 4 P. M., having in tow
the six principal beams of the Beacon-house, together with all the
stanchions and other work on board for fixing it on the rock. The
mooring of the floating-light was a great point gained, but, in
the erection of the beacon at this late period of the season, new
difficulties presented themselves. The success of such an undertaking,
at any season, was precarious; because a single day of bad weather
occurring, before the necessary fixtures could be made, might sweep
the whole apparatus from the rock. Notwithstanding these difficulties,
the writer had determined to make the trial, although he could almost
have wished, upon looking at the state of the clouds, and the direction
of the wind, that the apparatus for the beacon had been still in the

[Sidenote: Saturday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: Preparations for erecting them.]

The weather to-day did not prognosticate any thing very favourable;
the wind, though in light breezes, continued at NE., and it was
occasionally almost calm. The main beams of the Beacon were made up
in two separate rafts, fixed with bars and bolts of iron. One of
these rafts, not being immediately wanted, was left astern of the
floating-light, and the other was kept in tow by the Smeaton, at
the buoy nearest to the rock. The Light-house Yacht rode at another
buoy, with all hands on board that could possibly be spared out of
the floating-light; including also ten additional men, as carpenters,
smiths and sailors, brought off for this operation. The party of
artificers and seamen which landed this morning on the Bell Rock,
counted altogether forty in number. At half-past 8 o’clock, a Derrick
or mast of thirty feet in height, was erected and properly supported
with guy-ropes, for suspending the block for raising the first
principal beam of the beacon; and a winch-machine was also bolted down
to the rock for working the purchase-tackle. The necessary blocks and
tackle were likewise laid to hand and properly arranged. The artificers
and seamen were severally allotted in squads to different stations;
some were to bring the principal beams to hand, others were to work
the tackles, while a third set had the charge of the iron-stanchions,
bolts, and wedges, so that the whole operation of raising the beams,
and fixing them to the rock, might go forward in such a manner that
some provision might be made, in every stage of the work, for securing
what had been accomplished, in case of a change of weather.

Upon raising the derrick, all hands on the rock spontaneously gave
three hearty cheers, as a favourable omen of our future exertions in
pointing out more permanently the position of the rock. Even to this
single spar of timber, could it be preserved, a drowning man might lay
hold. When the Smeaton drifted on the 2d of this month, such a spar
would have been sufficient to save us, till she could have come to
our relief. These preparations for the erection of the Beacon having
been previously made, the writer collected the heads of the several
departments on board of the Light-house Yacht, particularly the foremen
of the builders and joiners, and the masters and mates of the vessels.
Here the operation of raising and fixing the first four beams was again
talked over and arranged, as, from the very limited period of working
on the rock, every thing required to be performed in the most prompt
and systematic manner, as previously settled.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: Four of the principal beams erected.]

The wind this morning was variable, but the weather continued extremely
favourable for the operations throughout the whole day. At 6 A. M.
the boats were in motion, and the raft, consisting of four of the six
principal beams of the Beacon-house, each measuring about sixteen
inches square, and fifty feet in length, was towed to the rock, where
it was anchored, that it might _ground_ upon it as the water ebbed. At
7 A. M. the boats of the Floating-light, the Yacht, and the Smeaton,
arrived at the rock, when the work immediately commenced. The sailors
and artificers, including all hands to-day, counted no fewer than
fifty-two, being perhaps the greatest number of persons ever collected
upon the Bell Rock. It was early in the tide when the boats reached
the rock, and the men worked a considerable time up to their middle
in water, every one being more eager than his neighbour to be useful.
Even the four artificers, who had hitherto declined working on Sunday,
were to-day most zealous in their exertions; they had indeed become so
convinced of the precarious nature and necessity of the work, that they
never afterwards absented themselves from the rock on Sunday, when a
landing was practicable.

[Sidenote: Method of raising the principal beams of the Beacon-house.]

Having made fast a piece of very good new line, at about two thirds
from the lower end of one of the beams, the purchase-tackle of the
derrick was hooked into the turns of the line, and it was speedily
raised, by the number of men on the rock, and the power of the winch
tackle. When this log was lifted to a sufficient height, its foot,
or lower end, was _stepped_ into the spot which had been previously
prepared for it. Two of the great iron stanchions were then set into
their respective holes, on each side of the beam, when a rope was
passed round them and the beam, to prevent it from slipping, till it
could be more permanently fixed. The derrick or upright spar used
for carrying the tackle to raise the first beam, was placed in such
a position as to become useful for supporting the upper end of it,
which now became, in its turn, the prop of the tackle for raising the
second beam, which was laid in such a position, that when hoisted up,
its foot slipped into its place, when it was, in like manner, lashed
to its great iron stanchions on each side. The first and second beams
being lashed to one another at the top, served as a pair of sheers,
from which the purchase tackle was now suspended, for raising the
other two beams, which were also speedily got into their places. The
whole difficulty of this operation was in the raising and propping
of the first beam, which became a convenient derrick for raising the
second, these again a pair of sheers for lifting the third, and the
sheers a triangle for raising the fourth. Having thus got four of the
six principal beams set on end, it required a considerable degree of
trouble to get their upper ends to fit. Here they formed the apex of a
cone, and were all together mortised into a large piece of beechwood,
and secured, for the present, with ropes, in a temporary manner. During
the short period of one tide, all that could further be done for their
security, was to put a single screw-bolt through the great kneed bats
or stanchions on each side of the beams, and screw the nut home. In
this manner each beam, with its respective pair of bats, was fixed,
besides being strongly bound together with ropes.

[Sidenote: Method of fixing the great iron stanchions into the rock.]

While one set of the artificers were employed in this operation,
another fixed the great iron-stanchions into the rock, into which they
were sunk to the depth of about twenty inches. They were of a dove-tail
or wedge form, at the lower end, where they measured an inch and a
half in thickness; were about four inches in their medium breadth; and
were let perpendicularly into the rock, but kneed or bent to suit the
angle which the beams formed with it. These great bats or stanchions
had much the figure and appearance of a soldier’s musket; they were
five feet in length, and weighed about 140 lb. each. Instead of running
the bat-holes full of melted lead, as is common in operations of this
kind, but which, in case of friction or movement, is apt to be squeezed
out of the holes, all the bats made use of at the Bell Rock, as before
noticed, were fixed by means of wedges. Several of the artificers were
therefore employed in wedging these stanchions first with fir-timber,
then with oak, and lastly with iron, driven into spaces left for this
purpose, between the bats and the rock. These wedges were driven so
firmly, that although the stanchions were the only fixture for this
wooden house, it had not been found necessary to drive any of the
wedges a second time.

[Sidenote: Have seven hours work upon the rock.]

In this manner these four principal beams were erected, and left in a
pretty secure state. It, however, required the whole tide to get this
much accomplished. Indeed, the men had commenced during ebb-tide, while
there was about two or three feet water upon the site of the Beacon,
and as the sea was smooth, they continued the work equally long during
flood-tide. Two of the boats being left at the rock to take off the
joiners, who were busily employed on the upper parts till 2 o’clock
P. M., this tide’s work may be said to have continued for about seven
hours, which was the longest that had hitherto been got upon the rock
by at least three hours.

When the first boats left the rock with the artificers employed on
the lower part of the work during the flood-tide, the Beacon had
quite a novel appearance. The beams erected, formed a common base of
about thirty-three feet, meeting at the top, which, independently of
ulterior works, was about forty-five feet above the rock, and here
half a dozen of the artificers were still at work. After clearing the
rock, the boats made a stop, when three hearty cheers were given, which
were returned with equal good will by those upon the Beacon, from the
personal interest which every one felt in the prosperity of this work,
so intimately connected with his safety.

[Sidenote: All hands assemble to prayers.]

All hands having returned to their respective ships, they got a
shift of dry clothes, and some refreshment. Being Sunday, they were
afterwards convened by signal on board of the Light-house Yacht, when
prayers were read; for every heart, upon this occasion, felt gladness,
and every mind was disposed to be thankful for the happy and successful
termination of the operations of this day. The crews then returned to
their respective ships, and as nothing further could be done to the
Beacon during the night tide, there was no landing made in the evening.

[Sidenote: Monday 21st.]

The weather most fortunately continued favourable for the operations,
the wind being westerly, with fresh breezes. The boats landed at
half-past 7 A. M., the number of persons on the rock being, as
formerly, fifty-two; the work was carried on till half-past 12, making
four hours and a half upon the rock. The remaining two principal beams
were erected in the course of this tide, which, with the assistance
of those set up yesterday, was found to be a very simple operation.
In hoisting up the sixth and last log, however, and just when it was
about to be kanted into its place, the iron-hook of the principal
purchase-block gave way, and this great beam, measuring fifty feet in
length, fell upon the rock with a terrible crash; but what is not a
little wonderful, although there were fifty-two people engaged round
the beacon, yet not one was hurt in the slightest degree by its fall.
The beam itself was only a little shaken near the upper end, but was
not materially damaged. Another block was immediately hooked, in the
place of that which had failed, and the beam was got into its place
without much delay. Every possible exertion was now made to fix the
lower ends of the beams to the rock, by connecting them with their
respective stanchions, while three strong hoops of malleable iron were
employed, for securing the whole in one mass at the top.

The six principal beams of the beacon were thus secured, at least in a
temporary manner, in the course of two tides, or in the short space of
about eleven hours and a half. The only inconveniency attending this
operation, arose from the derrick for raising the first beam being
rather too short. It was only thirty feet in height, whereas it was
found that it would have answered better had it been about forty-five
feet. We were also a good deal troubled and perplexed with the logs
afloat, from having the six principal beams in two rafts: it would have
been more convenient had they been lashed together in pairs, and then
rafted in one lot. The writer concludes, upon the whole, that about
eight hours only were actually employed in raising the beams of the
beacon, and fixing them in a temporary manner. Such is the progress
that may be made, when active hands and willing minds set properly to
work in operations of this kind.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Four of the supporting beams set up.]

Having now got the weighty part of this work over, and being thereby
relieved of the difficulty both of landing and victualling such a
number of men, the Smeaton could now be spared, and she was accordingly
dispatched to Arbroath, for a supply of water and provisions, and
carried with her six of the artificers who could best be spared. The
wind to-day was due west, and blowing so fresh, that the boats had some
difficulty in landing the remaining thirty-six persons at 8 A. M. who
continued on the rock till half-past 12, having had four and a half
hours work. During this tide four of the struts, or supporting beams,
were set up, butting against the inside of four of the principal beams.
These supports were each about twenty feet in length, varying somewhat
according to the inequalities of the rock. At the foot they were fixed
to the rock with stanchions, similar to those of the principal beams,
and at the top they were connected with pieces of oak, strongly
strapped with iron, collapsing around the principal beams to which they
were bolted.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 23d.]

[Sidenote: The boats have some difficulty in leaving the rock to-day.]

Landed at half-past 9 this morning, and succeeded in getting up the
two remaining supports, and in fixing several of the bracing chains.
But, instead of entering at present into any farther details about the
several parts of the beacon, it will be better to refer these to the
letter-press description of Plate VIII. After having been four and a
half hours at work on the rock to-day, the boats left it, though not
without considerable difficulty, as the wind had been blowing fresh all
the last night, and to-day it was shifting and veering about from N.W.
to N.N.E., which had already set up a pretty heavy sea. In going out of
the eastern harbour, the boat which the writer steered shipped a sea,
that filled her about one-third with water. She had also been hid for
a short time, by the waves breaking upon the rock, from the sight of
the crew of the preceding boat, who were much alarmed for our safety,
imagining for a time that she had gone down.

[Sidenote: Shipping separated by a gale.]

The Smeaton returned from Arbroath this afternoon, but there was so
much sea that she could not be made fast to her moorings; she therefore
let go her small bower anchor, in order to get a supply of provisions
put on board of the Light-house yacht, and receive other six of the
artificers to carry ashore. But the anchor was no sooner let go than
it broke among the rocks, and the vessel was obliged to return to
Arbroath, without being able either to deliver the provisions, or take
the artificers on board. The Light-house yacht was also soon obliged
to follow her example, as the sea was breaking heavily over her bows.
After getting two reefs in the mainsail, and the third or storm-jib
set, the wind being SW., she beat to windward, though blowing a hard
gale, and got into St Andrew’s Bay, where we passed the night under
the lee of Fifeness. In these circumstances, it was impossible for the
writer to divest himself of much anxiety for the fate of the newly
erected beacon, which was still but imperfectly fixed to the rock.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 24th.]

At 2 o’clock this morning we were in St Andrew’s Bay, standing off
and on shore, with strong gales of wind at SW.; at 7 we were off the
entrance of the Tay; at 8 stood towards the rock, and at 10 passed to
leeward of it, but could not attempt a landing. The beacon, however,
appeared to remain in good order, and by 6 P. M. the vessel had again
beaten up to St Andrew’s Bay, and got into somewhat smoother water for
the night.

[Sidenote: Friday, 25th.]

The wind still continues at SW., blowing very hard; at 7 o’clock bore
away for the Bell Rock, but finding a heavy sea running on it, were
unable to land. The writer, however, had the satisfaction to observe,
with his telescope, that every thing about the beacon appeared entire,
and although the sea had a most frightful appearance, yet it was the
opinion of every one, that, since the erection of the beacon, the Bell
Rock was divested of many of its terrors, and, had it been possible
to have got the boats hoisted out and manned, it might have even been
found practicable to land: the vessel was, therefore, kept in the
track of the rock, till it could be determined if a landing might be
effected with the afternoon’s tide. The Yacht, in the mean time, stood
towards the Redhead on the opposite shore, and at 5 P. M. returned;
but both the wind and sea had rather increased. At 6 it blew so hard,
that it was found necessary to strike the topmast and take in a third
reef of the mainsail, and under this low canvas we soon reached St
Andrew’s Bay, and got again under the lee of the land for the night.
The artificers being sea-hardy, were quite reconciled to their quarters
on board of the Light-house Yacht; but it is believed that hardly any
consideration would have induced them again to take up their abode in
the floating-light.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 26th.]

[Sidenote: Land on the rock after an absence of four days.]

In the course of the last night, the wind had shifted from SW. to W.
NW., with moderate weather. At day-light, the Yacht steered towards the
Bell Rock, and at 8 A. M., made fast to her moorings; at 10, all hands,
to the amount of thirty, landed, when the writer had the happiness to
find that the beacon had withstood the violence of the gale and the
heavy breach of sea, every thing being found in the same state in which
it had been left on the 21st. The artificers were now enabled to work
upon the rock throughout the whole day, both at low and high water,
but it required the strictest attention to the state of the weather,
in case of their being overtaken with a gale, which might prevent the
possibility of getting them off the rock. To-day, one half of the
artificers remained on the beacon till half-past 6 P. M., having been
eight hours and a half at work upon it.

[Sidenote: Smith’s forge removed from the rock to the Beacon.]

Two somewhat memorable circumstances in the annals of the Bell Rock
attended the operations of this day; one was the removal of Mr James
Dove, the foreman smith, with his apparatus, from the rock to the upper
part of the beacon, where the forge was now erected on a temporary
platform, laid on the cross beams or upper framing. The other was,
the artificers having dined for the first time upon the rock, their
dinner being cooked on board of the Yacht, and sent to them by one of
the boats. But what afforded the greatest happiness and relief, was
the removal of the large bellows, which had all along been a source of
much trouble and perplexity, by their hampering and incommoding the
boat which carried the smiths and their apparatus. The men belonging
to that boat were so delighted with this occurrence, that while the
bellows were in the act of being hoisted up to their new station, they
gave three such hearty cheers, from below, as astonished and surprised
those who were working the tackle on the beacon, to such a degree,
that, for a moment, they let the rope slip through their hands, and had
they not speedily caught hold again, this useful implement might have
been dashed to pieces,--which would have been a misfortune of no small
import, considering the state of the works at the present crisis.

[Sidenote: Sunday 27th.]

It being now the period of neap-tides, other ten of the artificers were
sent ashore to the work-yard at Arbroath, which reduced our complement
at the rock to twenty. The boats landed the people this morning at 11,
but the masons had only about an hour’s work on the highest part of
the foundation of the light-house, which was only partially left by
the water, the joiners and two blacksmiths being busily employed in
completing and securing the several parts of the beacon, particularly
in screwing the bolts of the stanchions and bracing-chains, and in
staying the lower part of the beams. They continued at these operations
till 6 o’clock P. M., having been nine hours upon the rock.

[Sidenote: Monday, 28th.]

[Sidenote: The writer sails for Arbroath after having been four weeks

The joiners and smiths were landed on the beacon at 7 A. M., where
they continued all day, and were brought off again at 5 P. M. The
Smeaton had just returned from Leith, where she had been sent for
sundry materials connected with the work. The joiners and smiths were
ten hours upon the rock to-day, which was the longest period they
had hitherto been upon it at any one time. They now had their dinner
regularly sent to the beacon, and could continue at work throughout
the whole day, while the weather was sufficiently moderate to admit
of the boats plying to and from the rock. To-day the water did not
leave it, and it was now the seventh day since the lowest part of the
foundation or site of the light-house had been seen. The Beacon being
now in a comparative state of security, the Smeaton was left at the
rock as a tender, and the writer sailed in the Light-house yacht, this
afternoon, to inquire into the operations of the work-yard at Arbroath.
After setting sail, and looking back upon the Bell Rock, it was quite
astonishing to observe the change in the appearance of things, which
the erection of these beams had produced. To shipping they became an
excellent beacon; while they induced the greatest confidence of safety
in all who were actively engaged in this work. The vessel anchored in
the bay of Arbroath, at a late hour, when the writer landed, for the
first time since the commencement of the working season, on the 17th of
August; after having been between four and five weeks afloat.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 29th.]

This morning was occupied in going over the work-yard with Mr David
Logan, clerk of works, who had charge of the hewing department. The
first entire course of the building was now partly laid upon the
platform: a few stones of the second course, and several of the higher
courses, were also in progress. But from the backward state of the
quarries in the production of stones of large dimensions, it was found
necessary to make some additional exertions for procuring a more
regular supply, and a person was therefore dispatched to the quarries
of Aberdeen and Mylnefield for this purpose.

[Sidenote: Sails again for the Bell Rock.]

Having made some further arrangements in the work-yard, the writer
again embarked in the Yacht, and sailed for the Bell Rock this
forenoon, carrying with him Mr Peter Logan, the foreman builder, and
the artificers who had formerly been at the rock; but who had expressly
stipulated that they were not to be obliged to continue longer afloat
than the approaching spring-tides, when it was expected the Beacon
works would be completely secured for the winter. In the early part of
this day, there was little or no wind, but in the afternoon it came to
blow very hard from south by west, and in the evening it had increased
to a hard gale. Having stood off to the Bell Rock, and put the vessel
under low canvas, we hailed the floating-light, and found her labouring
very hard with sixty fathoms of cable out. We then stretched to the
southern side of the Bell Rock, when the vessel was laid to; but the
Smeaton, which was also in company, being a small vessel, and much
hampered with boats, was not in a condition to keep at sea, and as soon
as the gale got up she stood in for Arbroath, and landed Mr Francis
Watt, the foreman-joiner, and the artificers under his charge, to wait
a favourable change of weather.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: The vessels again separated by a gale.]

This morning it was calculated, by Mr Gloag, the commander of the
Light-house Yacht, that she had drifted about thirty miles, in a SE.
direction from the Redhead. About mid-day, the wind shifted to NW.,
and we steered for St Abb’s Head, which was seen about twilight in the
evening, and our course was directed across the Frith of Forth. When
in the act of putting about the ship, the stem boat was very nearly
lost, having been struck by a heavy sea which unhooked the fore-tackle.
At midnight we got within a few miles of the light of May, and soon
afterwards found smooth water in St Andrew’s Bay, where we tacked, or
“stood to and again,” as the sailors term it, all night.

[Sidenote: 1807, October.]

[Sidenote: October, Thursday 1st.]

This morning the wind shifted to NE. with moderate breezes. In the
course of the forenoon we beat towards the Bell Rock, and sailed round
it, when every thing appeared to be in good order about the beacon.
Having no shelter in St Andrew’s Bay with this wind, the Yacht stood
alternately towards Arbroath and the Bell Rock for the night. The
floating-light being a most excellent guide for putting about, before
the vessel got too near to the rock. The older sailors on board of the
Yacht, on this occasion, made frequent observations as to the utility
of this temporary light, expressing their admiration at the change of
circumstances which had led to their cruising with so much confidence,
both by day and night, in the immediate vicinity of this dangerous rock.

[Sidenote: Friday 2d.]

[Sidenote: Effect a landing at the rock.]

The wind having come round to NW. with fresh breezes, it soon run down
the north-easterly swell of the sea, and at half-past 1 P. M., all
hands, to the amount of twenty, landed on the rock, though not without
difficulty. Twelve of the masons were engaged during three hours, or
till 4 o’clock, in excavating the foundation of the light-house, while
the eight joiners and smiths, who also had arrived with the Smeaton,
were employed at the works of the beacon for nine hours and a half; and
having continued at work by torchlight, they left the rock at half-past
10 o’clock P. M.

[Sidenote: State of the Beacon after the late gale.]

On carefully examining into the state of things at the Bell Rock,
after the late gale, the writer had the satisfaction to find, that
the principal beams of the beacon, with their diagonal supports,
cross-beams and stanchions connecting them to the rock, had not the
smallest appearance of working or shifting, as mechanics express it.
One of the tie chains had indeed given way, and hung loosely from the
beacon, and one of the bracing screws had wrought off its nut. This
was an evidence that the principal beams from the elasticity of the
timber, had been acted upon by the sea, and that they still required
some additional stay in the middle. Such, however, were the fixtures
of the beacon to the rock with the iron stanchions, and its connection
at the top, where it was strongly girt with circular hoops of iron,
that it was perfectly firm at both extremities. The central support was
intended to be effected by means of strong bars of iron, stretching
between the principal beams; but the season was now too far advanced
for such an undertaking, and therefore, the bracing-chains, represented
in Plate VIII., were attached for the present.

It was not a little remarkable, that notwithstanding the impression
which the sea had produced during the late gale, in shaking the beacon,
so as to break one of the tie-chains, unscrew one of the bracing-bolts,
and in shaking several of the smith’s tools from his hearth on the
platform at the top, yet these tools, and other small articles of iron,
were all found lying on the rock. The nut of the bolt, for example,
was got immediately under the chain from which it had dropped. Several
other striking examples of this kind were observable, shewing how
little will shelter articles somewhat ponderous in themselves, when
they lie at a considerable depth in water.

[Sidenote: Saturday 3d.]

[Sidenote: Working hours greatly extended.]

The wind being west to-day, the weather was very favourable for the
operations at the rock, and during the morning and evening tides, with
the aid of torch-light, the masons had seven hours’ work upon the site
of the building. The smiths and joiners, who landed at half-past 6 A.
M., did not leave the rock till a quarter past 11 P. M., having been at
work, with little intermission, for sixteen hours and three quarters.
When the water left the rock, they were employed at the lower parts
of the beacon, and as the tide rose or fell, they shifted the place
of their operations. From these exertions, the fixing and securing of
the beacon made rapid advancement, as the men were now landed in the
morning, and remained throughout the day. But, as a sudden change of
weather might have prevented their being taken off at the proper time
of tide, a quantity of bread and water was always kept on the Beacon.

[Sidenote: Sunday 4th.]

The wind was southerly during the fore part of the day, and towards
evening it became quite calm. The boats landed the artificers this
morning at a quarter before 7 o’clock; when the masons had three
and a half hours’ work at the foundation of the building, but the
spring-tides were now taking off; the best of them having unfortunately
been lost during the late gale. The smiths and joiners, however,
continued their operations throughout the whole of the day, and did not
leave the rock till half-past 12 at night.

During this period of working at the Beacon all the day, and often a
great part of the night, the writer was much on board of the Tender;
but, while the masons could work on the rock, and frequently also while
it was covered by the tide, he remained on the Beacon; especially
during the night, as he made a point of being on the rock to the latest
hour, and was generally the last person who stepped into the boat. He
had laid this down as part of his plan of procedure; and in this way
had acquired, in the course of the first season, a pretty complete
knowledge and experience of what could actually be done at the Bell
Rock, under all circumstances of the weather. By this means also his
assistants, and the artificers and mariners, got into a systematic
habit of proceeding at the commencement of the work, which, it is
believed, continued throughout the whole of the operations.

[Sidenote: Beacon works finished for the season.]

The external part of the beacon was now finished, with its supports
and bracing-chains, and whatever else was considered necessary for its
stability, in so far as the season would permit; and although much was
still wanting to complete this fabric, yet it was in such a state that
it could be left without much fear of the consequences of a storm. The
painting of the upper part was nearly finished this afternoon; and the
Smeaton had brought off a quantity of brush-wood and other articles,
for the purpose of heating or charring the lower part of the principal
beams, before being laid over with successive coats of boiling pitch,
to the height of from eight to twelve feet, or as high as the rise
of spring-tides. A small flag-staff having also been erected to-day,
a flag was displayed for the first time from the Beacon, by which
its perspective effect was greatly improved. On this, as on all like
occasions at the Bell Rock, three hearty cheers were given; and the
steward served out a dram of rum to all hands, while the Light-house
Yacht, Smeaton, and Floating-light, hoisted their colours in compliment
to the Erection.

[Sidenote: Monday 5th.]

To-day the wind was westerly, and the weather was very wet; but this
was thought nothing of at the Bell Rock, so long as the wind kept
moderate. At a quarter past 8 A. M. the boats landed the artificers.
The masons had only 2½ hours’ work at the site of the building,
owing to the smallness of the ebb-tide; but the joiners and smiths
continued their operations till half-past 11 P. M., and were
consequently 15 hours and a quarter upon the Rock.

[Sidenote: Mr Rennie and one of his sons visit the Rock.]

In the afternoon, and just as the tide’s work was over, Mr JOHN RENNIE,
engineer, accompanied by his son Mr GEORGE, on their way to the
harbour-works of Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire, paid a visit to the
Bell Rock, in a boat from Arbroath. It being then too late in the tide
for landing, they remained on board of the Light-house Yacht all night,
when the writer, who had now been secluded from society for several
weeks, enjoyed much of Mr Rennie’s interesting conversation; both on
general topics, and professionally upon the progress of the Bell-Rock
works, on which he was consulted as chief engineer. The weather
continued very moderate all night; but although there was little swell
in the sea, yet our quarters on board of the Yacht were not the most
agreeable, especially to strangers. The vessel, being perfectly new,
was so completely water-tight, that it was hardly possible to keep her
free of bilge-water, and so strong was the hydrogenous gas or offensive
effluvia arising from it, that it had affected the colour of the paint
of the cabin floor-cloth, and even, to a certain degree, blackened
the silver plate, coins and watch-cases on board, notwithstanding the
frequent pumping of the ship, and other means which were taken to
sweeten her.

[Sidenote: Tuesday 6th.]

[Sidenote: Works given up for the season.]

The artificers landed this morning at 9, after which one of the boats
returned to the ship for the writer and Messrs Rennie, who, upon
landing, were saluted with a display of the colours from the Beacon,
and by three cheers from the workmen. Both the weather and the tide
were pretty favourable for the operations, and the masons continued
about three hours at work. Every thing was now in a prepared state
for leaving the rock, and giving up the works afloat for this season,
excepting some small articles, which would still occupy the smiths and
joiners for a few days longer. They, accordingly, shifted on board of
the Smeaton, while the Yacht left the rock for Arbroath, with Messrs
Rennie, the writer, and the remainder of the artificers. But, before
taking leave, the steward served out a farewell-glass, when three
hearty cheers were given, and an earnest wish expressed, that every
thing, in the spring of 1808, might be found in the same state of good
order as it was now about to be left.

In concluding the account of the first season’s work, the writer may
observe, that he had not at any time previously to his engaging in the
Bell Rock works, been more than five or six days at sea on a stretch,
even in the course of his voyages to the Northern Light-houses. But
on the present occasion he had now been afloat upwards of seven
weeks, with the exception of a single day spent in the Work Yard.
Upon his return to the shore, therefore, after having successfully
closed these critical operations, he felt a mixed emotion of happiness
and gratitude, for so prosperous a termination; and, participating
in those feelings which are known to actuate the mariner, after a
dangerous voyage, he looked with thankfulness to that Providence
which had preserved those engaged in the work under so many perilous

[Sidenote: Number of days the artificers were actually at work.]

The period during which the works had been continued, appeared of much
longer duration to every one than it really was, for, upon calculating
the actual time spent upon the rock, it amounted to about 180 hours,
of which only 133 or about 13½ days, of 10 hours each, could be
said to have been actively employed. Upon looking back on this result,
the writer is astonished at what had been accomplished in so short
a period; for besides the erection of the principal beams of the
Beacon-house, something considerable had also been done towards the
preparation of the site of the Light-house. He cannot, therefore,
help thinking, that the experience of this season’s work at the Bell
Rock, affords a good example of what may be executed under similar
circumstances, when every heart and every hand is anxiously and
zealously engaged; for the artificers wrought at the erection of the
Beacon as for life; or somewhat like men stopping a breach in a wall to
keep out an overwhelming flood.


In stating the progress of the Bell Rock works at the close of the
first season, it is hardly necessary to say, that, for success,
and ultimate utility, they far exceeded the writer’s most sanguine
expectations. By the erection of the frame-work of the Beacon-house,
the rock had in a great measure been robbed of its terrors to those
employed in building the Light-house. At all times when a boat could
be put to sea, or approach this sunken reef, there was not now that
actual danger in landing which formerly presented itself. Should the
Tender in future go a-drift, or a boat happen to be wrecked on the
rock, the Beacon could now be looked to as a place of shelter, till
more efficient means could be resorted to. This work had always been a
great desideratum with the writer, who had now chiefly to consider how
the future steps were to be attained, having much less to occupy his
attention in regard to the safety of the people employed.

The whole of the artificers being collected at the work-yard of
Arbroath, in the latter end of the month of October, their number
amounted to forty-four. It, therefore, became indispensably necessary
to get forward with the quarries, otherwise a number of experienced
workmen must have been paid off, which would have been attended with
much disadvantage to the operations at the rock next year. There was
now every prospect that by mid-summer, the foundation or site of the
Light-house would be completely excavated and ready for commencing the
building; while as yet the hewing of one entire course had not been
completed, for want of materials, although the stones of three or four
successive courses were in progress. For example, 10 blocks of granite
were still wanting of the first course, 30 blocks of the second, which
measured 18 inches in thickness, and 20 blocks of the third, and so
of other courses. The procuring of a sufficient stock of materials,
and getting the quarries into a more regular system of supply, became
an object which we shall more particularly notice under the article
Building Materials, in the following chapter.

[Sidenote: Work-Yard.]

The Work-Yard at Arbroath, where the stones were collected and hewn,
consisted of an inclosed piece of ground, extending to about three
quarters of an acre, conveniently situate on the northern side of the
Lady Lane, or street, leading from the western side of the Harbour,
being only about 200 yards distant from the Light-House shipping birth,
as will be seen from Plate XII. Upon this plot of ground there was
built a suite or range of barrack-rooms for the artificers, and the
several apartments connected with the engineer’s office, mould-makers’
drawing-room, stores, work-shops for smiths and joiners, stable, &c.
extending 150 feet along the north side of the work-yard, which were
now fully occupied. Shades of timber were also constructed for the
workmen in wet weather, and a kiln for burning lime. In a centrical
position of this ground, a circular platform of masonry was built, on
which the stones were laid when dressed, and each course tried and
marked, before being shipped for the rock. This platform measured
44 feet in diameter; it was founded with large broad stones, at the
depth of about 2 feet 6 inches, and built to within 10 inches of the
surface with ruble work; on which a course of neatly dressed and well
jointed masonry was laid, of the red sandstone from the quarries to the
eastward of Arbroath, which brought the platform on a level with the
surface of the ground. Here the dressed part of the first entire course
of the Light-House was now lying, and the platform was so substantially
built as to be capable of supporting any number of courses which it
might be found convenient to lay upon it, in the further progress of
the work.

[Sidenote: 1807, November.]

Mr Gloag, who commanded the Light-house Yacht, had been successful in
grappling and finding the old moorings of the Pharos floating-light,
from which that vessel had drifted after the dreadful gale of the 6th
of September. These he had weighed, and removed to within about 400
fathoms of the new ground taken up by that vessel, and had placed
a buoy upon them, that, in case of her again drifting, any vessel
carrying the floating-light could immediately be brought to ride at
these spare moorings. The Yacht had also lifted three of the four
floating buoys, with their chains and mushroom anchors, from the
neighbourhood of the Bell Rock, leaving one set for the use of the
vessel occasionally attending for the purpose of inspecting the Beacon.
In the course of the month of November several very severe gales of
wind occurred, and Mr Watt, the foreman joiner, who had been appointed
to examine the rock at spring-tides, when the weather would permit,
with three or four artificers, found some small repairs necessary, in
consequence of damage which the Beacon had sustained.

[Sidenote: Sunday 22d.]

[Sidenote: The Writer visits the Rock.]

On the morning of the 22d of this month, the writer landed at the
Bell Rock, when the greater part of the bracing-chains of the Beacon
were in a loosened state, and hanging from their eye-bolts, like so
much shipwreck. Two of the chain-bats were also drawn, which had
lifted considerable masses of the rock along with them. But after a
most careful and minute examination of the six principal beams of the
beacon, and their respective supports, it was satisfactory to find
that the great iron-stanchions had not the smallest appearance of
working or shifting; the wedges of timber and iron having exactly the
same appearance as when they were at first driven home by the hammer;
the coating of pitch and tar was also as entire upon the seams and
joints as when first applied. Every thing connected with the fixing
of the beams at the top was likewise in good order. Nor was it less
surprising, after so much stormy weather, to find that the ruble
building, with Pozzolano’s mortar, used in filling several holes in
the site of the Beacon, remained in its place, having now become fully
as hard as the adjoining parts of the rock.

Although it was found that the bracing-chains could not withstand the
shaking and tremulous motion of the Beacon, yet they were again set
up and tightened, with the exception of the two that had lifted their
bats, with a mass of the rock; which were knocked off altogether. It is
here worthy of remark, that the bolts of the bracing screws had always
a tendency to unlock, and one of the nuts, as before noticed, had even
unscrewed no less than three inches. To prevent this in future, a piece
of small wire was turned round the threads of each screw, which had
a tendency to preserve them; but still the chains stretched, became
loose, and broke their eye-bolts, or lifted part of the rock with the
strain. The bracing-chains may, however, be conceived to have had some
effect in checking the force of the waves, as was observable in the
operation of the sea upon the extensive beds of marine plants. It often
happened, when heavy seas were rolling along the Bell Rock, which at
a distance threatened to overrun the whole, that, upon reaching these
beds of fuci, with which the flat and level parts of the rock were
thickly coated, the velocity and force of the waves were immediately
checked, and in a great measure destroyed.

[Sidenote: Professor Playfair’s observations about the unlocking of

The unlocking of screws, where _washers_ had been introduced as a
security, was rather unexpected, and the writer took an opportunity
of conversing with his much respected friend Professor PLAYFAIR of
Edinburgh, regarding this circumstance. The Professor observed, that he
had experienced some inconveniency of this kind from the unlocking of
almost all the screws of a telescope, which had been sent to him from
London by the mail-coach. Indeed from the spiral form of the screw,
which is, in fact, an inclined plane, Mr Playfair readily accounted for
such an occurrence; and when reflected upon, it seems to be an effect
rather to be looked for, and is a reason why rivetting the point of a
bolt, in preference to screwing it, should generally be resorted to,
where much friction or motion is to be apprehended.

[Sidenote: 1807, December.]

[Sidenote: State of the Floating-light.]

At this visit to the Bell Rock, the writer went also on board of the
Floating-light, where every thing was found in good order. On some
occasions Mr Sinclair, the commander, stated, that the vessel had
rolled excessively hard; that she had shipped two or three very heavy
seas over the waste-boards, and that he had found it occasionally
necessary to veer out 80 fathoms of cable. He also stated, that the
floating-light had been _run foul of_ by a large smack-rigged vessel,
with all her canvas set, though the lights were burning perfectly
clear. This vessel had struck upon the larboard quarter, damaged the
taff-rail, and started three of the floating-lights’ trenails. That
they immediately hailed the vessel, but she sheered-off, and her crew
made no reply. The smack was beating to the northward, and was much
lumbered on the quarter-deck with packages of earthen-ware, which were
distinctly seen upon her deck from the brilliancy of the lights.

The sailors on board of the floating-light were all in good health, and
appeared to be satisfied with their situation. The master, however,
mentioned, that his crew, particularly the young men, calculated very
sharply about their turns for leave on shore, which came round in the
course of about six weeks. Indeed, the probability is, that had the
seamen not been rather compelled to this duty, as a protection against
the Impress-service, it might have been found extremely difficult to
get able seamen to undertake so dreary a life as the continual round
of riding at anchor in the open sea, without the company of other
shipping, or the pleasure of intercourse with the shore, as is the case
in the ordinary road or anchorage for shipping.

The several departments of the Bell Rock works being arranged for
the winter months, the sloop Smeaton was appointed to make several
trips to the quarries for stones, while the Light-house Yacht, being
stationed at Arbroath, was to attend the Floating-light, and carry off
the artificers to examine the state of the Beacon at spring-tides.
The writer having adjusted these matters, returned to Edinburgh on
the 4th of December. Here he was employed in preparing the necessary
implements, procuring materials, and in other objects connected
with the work, which will fall more properly to be noticed in the
transactions of the year 1808.



[Sidenote: 1808, January.]

After taking some notice of the preparations made during the
winter months, or early part of the year 1808, it is proposed, in
describing the progress of the works of this season, to adopt the
form of a journal or diary, as in the preceding chapter. The last
year’s operations being more of a preliminary nature, the implements
and apparatus employed were few in number, and simple in their
construction. But the facilities to be afforded by the erection of the
Beacon were such, that not only the site of the building was expected
to be prepared, but it was hoped that some of the courses of masonry
would also be laid during the ensuing summer. It therefore became
necessary to be provided with shipping, and every article, both of
implements and building materials, however small the actual progress of
the work might ultimately be.


[Sidenote: The New Tender.]

It has already been noticed, in the course of last year’s operations,
that much inconveniency, and no small degree of hazard, were
experienced in making the numerous passages between the Bell Rock
and the Floating-light, especially when the boats were crowded with
artificers. Not having previously been so fully aware of these
circumstances, and with a view to save expence, the Floating-light
was likewise applied to the purpose of a tender. She was consequently
moored at a more considerable distance from the rock, as will be
understood from Plate V.; but as, from the nature of her tackling, she
could not be cast loose upon any emergency, she was found to be but ill
adapted to the uses of a tender.

[Sidenote: Is named The Sir Joseph Banks.]

The writer having represented this to the Light-house Board, was
immediately authorised to provide a vessel, to be exclusively employed
for the service of the rock. He accordingly purchased one upon the
stocks at Arbroath, in such forwardness, that she was launched upon
the 18th of January 1808. This vessel was built by a Mr Thomas Fernie,
and was considered so complete in the mould or figure of her hull,
that some of the best judges of shipping have described her as one
of the handsomest vessels which perhaps had hitherto been built in
Scotland. On account of the exertions of the late Sir Joseph Banks, in
his capacity of one of the Lords of Trade, in procuring the loan from
Government, for the use of the Bell Rock Light-house, already alluded
to in the Introduction to this work, the writer suggested, as a mark of
respect, that the new tender should be named “The Sir Joseph Banks,” to
which the Light-house Board most readily acceded.

[Sidenote: Is rigged as a schooner.]

She was no sooner launched, than her rigging and equipment, in the best
manner, were undertaken by professional people; but the inspection
of the interior fitting and accommodations was kindly undertaken by
the late Provost Balfour of Arbroath, a gentleman who took great
delight in architectural pursuits, and who, upon all occasions, felt
the most lively interest in the operations of the Bell Rock. In
order that this vessel might stow two large boats upon deck, and be
got as quickly as possible under sail, in the event of her breaking
adrift, she was rigged as a schooner; and that, by the application
of a tackle from each mast, the boats might be conveniently managed,
in getting them in and out of the vessel. The Sir Joseph Banks being
only 81 tons register, it was necessary to lay out the births, for the
several departments of the service, with all possible attention to
the economising of room. The forepeak was accordingly fitted up with
a coboose for cooking; immediately aft of this birth, a compartment
was set off for the ship’s company and the landing-master’s crew, with
births for fifteen sailors. But _Jack_ is by no means ill to satisfy
with his sleeping-place, and it was often found necessary to encroach
upon the allotted number for this birth, according to the exigencies
of the service. The waist or middle of the ship was set apart for the
artificers, and was capable of containing forty men. Still proceeding
aft, a small birth was set off for the mate and steward, which
communicated both with the artificers’ birth, and also with the cabin
for the engineer’s assistants, the landing-master, and the captain of
the tender. In the sternmost part of the ship, a cabin was fitted up
for the use of the writer; the whole being found extremely commodious
and suitable. From the great proportion of the ship required for the
birthage of seamen and artificers, the hold of this small vessel was
much curtailed, there being hardly more room left than was sufficient
for containing a stock of provisions, water and fuel, for any length of
time, besides stowing two or three tiers of casks of lime, cement, and
other necessaries for the use of the work.

[Sidenote: Praam-boats, or Stone-lighters.]

Continuing the description of the marine part of the establishment,
we next notice three new praam-boats, or stone-lighters, built for
conveying the building materials to the Bell Rock, from the vessels
employed in bringing them from the work-yard at Arbroath. The term
Praam-boat is applied to a certain description of Norwegian boats,
having their stem and stem rounded after a peculiar fashion. The
introduction of this phrase, in the Bell Rock service, was purely
accidental, having been applied, by Captain Grindlay, Master of the
Trinity-House of Leith, to the first or experimental stone-lighter,
from its resemblance to the praams of Norway. Those now alluded to,
however, were built of a more rounded form, after the Dutch manner.
They measured over all, on deck, about 28 feet by 8 feet 6 inches,
and their depth of hold may be stated at 2 feet, for, being built by
different carpenters, they were not exactly of the same dimensions.
They had a considerable spring or sheer, and were constructed for
carrying their cargoes entirely upon deck, which formed a kind of
_cockpit_ in the waist, having a high gunwale on each side, and a
break, both fore and aft, as will be seen in Plate XI., the first tier
of stones seldom reaching above the level of the gunwale. They had,
consequently, little or no hold, having only what was sufficient for
stowing some pig or cast iron ballast, a few empty casks, with the
necessary warps, kedge-anchors, and grappling-irons.

[Sidenote: Precautions taken for rendering them water-tight and

These lighters were built of uncommonly strong materials, both in
their timbers, outward planks, and ceiling or lining, which last was
caulked and secured in a manner similar to that described for the
Floating-light, so that although the outward skin were damaged, by
striking or rubbing on the rock, there would still be an additional
defence against sinking. Such, however, was the presentiment of danger
attached to the landing-department, that besides the precaution of a
water-tight lining, each praam was provided with twelve strong empty
casks, which were stowed in the hold, and were sufficient to float and
render her buoyant, in case of accident. The praams, therefore, became
so many life-boats moored in the neighbourhood of the rock.

[Sidenote: Method of mooring the Praam-boats.]

These praams had but one hawse-hole, and that they might ride more
easily at their moorings in the open sea, it was placed amid-ships,
and as low or near the water-line as possible. The chain-hawsers with
which they were connected to their respective floating-buoys and
mushroom-anchors, were made of rod-iron, one-half inch in diameter,
turned into as short links as possible. This piece of chain was about
five fathoms in length, and was attached to the praam by a strong hook,
connected with her _bits_, the farther end being made permanently fast
to the mooring-chain of the mushroom-anchor. From the lowness of the
hawse-hole, and its central position in the praam, and from having
only a short piece of chain to carry, which connected the boat to the
mooring-buoy, may be attributed the astonishing ease and safety with
which these boats rode at anchor. So remarkable was this, that while
the tender, and the other vessels in the service, were tossed about,
and shipping a great deal of sea, and even at times obliged to slip
their moorings, the praams floated with an easy undulating motion, and
were generally as dry upon deck during a gale, though loaded with ten
tons of stone, as if, to use a sailor’s phrase, they had been riding in
a mill-pond. The facility, also, with which the praams were attached
and disengaged from their moorings, was another very great conveniency
to the work. In unmooring them, all that became necessary was to
unhook the hawser-chain from the bits, and throw it overboard, with a
small floating-buoy attached to it, for the purpose of suspending the
hawser-chain for the time. In the same manner, in making the praams
fast to their moorings, this chain was simply to be laid hold of, by
taking the small floating-buoy on board. The chain was then slipped
into the hawse-hole, by a corresponding slit in the stem of the
praam, and then attached to the bits, when the process was complete.
By inspecting the diagrams in Plate XI., this process will be better

[Sidenote: Attending Boats.]

The two cutters or boats employed last year for transporting the
artificers from the Floating-light to the Bell Rock, were found to be
rather too small in rough weather. They measured 16 feet in length of
keel, 5 feet 3 inches in breadth, on the mid-ship thwart or seat, and
2 feet 6 inches in depth. These boats were of as large dimensions as
the floating-light could stow, after making the necessary allowance
for _ranging_ her cables on deck. They had square sterns, were rowed
with four oars, and accommodated twelve sitters, including sailors.
But the Sir Joseph Banks being entirely fitted as a tender for the
works, the stowing of large landing-boats became a principal object.
Her boats were therefore made as large as possible, due regard being
had to their convenient management and fitness for the small creeks
or landing-places at the rock. After a careful consideration of these
circumstances, it was resolved that the two new attending-boats should
measure 20 feet in length of keel, 5 feet 8 inches in breadth, and
2 feet 10 inches in depth. They were rowed with eight oars, double
banked, or two upon each thwart, and could accommodate eighteen sitters
each. They were round in the stern, fitted with a backboard and a
convenient seat for the cockswain, who steered with a _yoke_ and lines,
instead of a _tiller_.

[Sidenote: Life-Boat.]

One of these boats was called The Mason, the other The Seaman. The
latter was fitted up as a Life-boat, somewhat after Greathead’s method,
being lined and girded with cork, to the depth of three streaks below
the gunwale. In case of accident, therefore, by the bilging of either
boat upon the rock, she was rendered more buoyant by the cork lining
and sheathing. They were built in Leith, and before being sent to the
rock, the buoyancy of the Life-boat was tried, when it was found that
she would float with thirty people on board.


[Sidenote: Railways.]

From the wasting effects of the sea, the Bell Rock is formed into
numerous benches and gullies, and its surface is consequently extremely
rough and irregular. The site of the Light-house being in a central
position on the rock, it became necessary to make some provision for
conveying the large blocks of stone speedily from the respective
landing-places to the site of the building; or at least within the
range of the cranes or machinery to be employed in laying them. In
ordinary situations, the most obvious method would have been to clear
away the inequalities of the rock; but here, from the lowness of its
position in the water, such an operation would have been extremely
tedious and difficult. Besides, every portion of the Bell Rock was held
sacred, excepting in so far as it was absolutely necessary to excavate
or remove part of it, in fixing the Beacon-house, and in preparing the
foundation of the Light-house. Instead, therefore, of quarrying the
rock, the writer found that the most advisable process would be, to lay
cast-iron railways round the site of the Light-house, projecting to the
several landing-places, on which waggons could easily be wheeled in all
directions, as will be seen by tracing the dotted lines on Plate VI.

For this purpose, patterns were prepared in the course of the winter,
from which castings of the several compartments of the railways were
made by Mr John Baird, of the Shotts Iron Works. These rails were
cast in lengths of four feet, and supported upon props and frames of
cast-iron, varying in height from six inches to five feet, according
to the inequalities of the rock, that the whole might be laid upon
one level. Besides the tracks for the wheels of the waggons, it was
necessary also to provide a tracking-path of the same metal, which was
formed of ribbed work, rested upon the supports of the rails, as will
be understood from the diagrams in Plate X. The waggon-tracks were of
the form technically termed Plate-rails, which were found convenient
for making the necessary fixtures. The edge-rail is less liable to
friction, and is certainly greatly preferable to the plate-rail, where
the track is liable to be impeded with dust, and other adventitious
matters; objections which do not apply at the Bell Rock, where the
rails were every tide considerably under water.

[Sidenote: Waggons.]

It was necessary that every thing intended to be left on the Bell Rock
during the working season, should have as little buoyancy as possible,
and as it would have been extremely inconvenient to have removed the
waggons from the rock, which were to be employed in conveying the
blocks of stone from the landing-places to the Light-house, they were
constructed entirely of iron, excepting two pieces of oak timber, which
were bolted upon the top, to form a seat for the stones. These waggons,
represented in Plate X., moved upon four trucks or wheels of cast-iron,
measuring one foot two inches in diameter, placed two feet six inches
asunder, being the length of the axle, and breadth of the railway. Each
waggon was provided with a handle, which shifted at pleasure to either
end, for the conveniency of reversing the motion, without the necessity
of turning the vehicle. But what was more peculiar to these waggons,
was a joint in the middle of the perch or double frame, connecting the
wheels, by means of which they were made applicable to the circular
tracks of the railway round the site of the building.

[Sidenote: Triangular Crane.]

Connected with the cast-iron railways, preparations were also made at
the eastern landing place, for lifting the stones by means of cranes or
other machinery from the Praam-boats, and laying them upon the waggons
to be conveyed to the building. After a good deal of consideration,
patterns were prepared for an apparatus consisting chiefly of six
pieces of cast-iron, four of which measured 12 feet in length, and of a
corresponding strength. As will be seen in Plate XI., these bars met
at the top in the form of two sets of sheers, but their lower ends were
placed about 9 feet asunder. Connected with these, a pair of sheers
were set up, which were moveable upon a bolt, and worked with a crab
or winch machine, the whole being strongly batted to the rock. When
the moveable pair of sheers, with their attached chain and hook, were
suspended outwards over the stone to be lifted from the praam, the
chain was hooked to the Lewis-bat, previously inserted into the block.
The sheers were then raised till they were brought to a perpendicular
position, when the motion of the winch was reversed, and the sheers
were lowered inwards upon the wharf, and the stone thus laid upon the
waggon. The chain was then unhooked, and the sheers were ready for
lifting another stone, as will be better understood by referring to
Plate XI., with its letter-press description.

[Sidenote: Crane with moveable Beam.]

Having, in the foregoing article, described the implement employed in
landing the stones on the Bell Rock during the year 1808, we are now
to notice the crane employed in laying or building them. It appears
from Mr Smeaton’s Narrative, that the implements chiefly used for
building at the Edystone, were a pair of moveable sheer-poles and a set
of triangles, most ingeniously applied to their respective purposes.
But such implements must have come far short of the expedition which
the writer had conceived to be necessary at the Bell Rock, both on
account of the much greater extent of the building, and also from its
foundation being so much lower in the water. After considering the
subject, and making minute inquiries into the practice at various
public works, he found no implement of the description, which he
considered applicable to his purpose. The common sheer-poles, still
chiefly in use, were recommended as having upon the whole been
successfully employed at the Edystone. In some instances, the common
crane, with the beam fixed at the top, at right angles to the shaft,
was applied for laying heavy materials. The writer, however, laid
it down as a proposition to himself, That a more effective mode of
building must be adopted at the Bell Rock than had hitherto been in
use, by which all the stones at any time likely to be landed in the
course of a tide, might be built and secured before the artificers left
the rock.

The chief difficulties attending the application of the common crane in
such a situation, consisted in the laying the stones perpendicularly
into their respective places, as they were all of a dove-tail or
angular form, as will be seen from Plate XIII. The fixed beam of the
common crane was further objectionable, from its being more liable to
interfere with the guy ropes. It would also have been difficult to have
lifted it either laterally or perpendicularly upon the building, from
one course to another. To these may also be added the great obstruction
which the beam would have presented to the waves of the sea at high
water. All these objections, however, were in a great measure got over,
by substituting a moveable beam to work upon a bolt at the foot or
lower end of the upright shaft, instead of a fixed beam at the top in
the usual manner. But as we shall have occasion again to notice this
machine in the operation of building, we shall here refer to Plate XIV.
with its letter-press description. Three of these cranes, with moveable
beams, were prepared for the work, in the course of the winter, one
with an upright shaft of 28 feet in length, for laying the prepared
stones upon the platform in the work-yard at Arbroath, and other two,
with shafts of 21 feet, for building at the rock.

[Sidenote: Sling Cart.]

Though none of the stones of the Bell Rock Light-house were likely
to exceed two tons in weight, in their finished state; yet, in their
undressed state, they were much more ponderous. From the waste
attending their dove-tailed form, and the working them square on all
their sides, the blocks from the quarry were greatly reduced; in
many instances, to one-half of the cubical contents of their quarry
dimensions, before they were brought to the size of the moulds. The
stones had not only to be conveyed from the harbour of Arbroath to the
work-yard, a distance of from two to three hundred yards, but also
required to be frequently lifted from place to place; as, for example,
when in a hewn or dressed state, they were removed to the circular
platform, in the middle of the work-yard, to be tried and marked;--they
were again shifted from this position, and ultimately carried to the
harbour to be shipped for the rock. From the various movements which
each stone had thus to undergo, it became an object of importance to
the facility and economy of the work, to consider how this could be
most conveniently accomplished. Had a cart or carriage, with four
wheels of the ordinary construction for great loads, been employed,
it would have been extremely troublesome, in all the operations of
loading, turning and moving from place to place. To have attempted to
avoid this by the use of waggons with low wheels, and the introduction
of railways along the quays and public streets of Arbroath, would
also have been objectionable, especially as the object could be much
more conveniently obtained by the use of what is called the Woolwich
Sling-cart, represented in Plate X. By this machine, the weight is
simply raised off the ground with a wheel and pinion apparatus fixed
upon the frame of the cart, and in this manner, the stone, instead of
being lifted upon the body of the carriage, had only to be suspended at
the necessary height for overcoming the inequalities of the road. This
vehicle had long been used with great advantage by military engineers,
in moving ordnance; but was probably first employed at Mylnefield
Quarry, and the Bell Rock works, in transporting blocks of stone.

[Sidenote: Carpenter’s Jack.]

Another implement prepared, in the course of the winter, for the Bell
Rock work-yard, was the Carpenter’s jack, used for raising ships upon
the blocks or props for the purposes of repair. This machine, which is
simple in its construction, and direct in its application, consists
of a rack and pinion, enclosed in a frame of oak timber, strongly
bound with iron, as represented in Plate X. By working the handle of
the jack, the stone-cutter is enabled, without the assistance of his
fellow workmen, to turn and lay the heaviest stone to his hand. This
apparatus the writer first saw used to much advantage, by the quarriers
at Portland Island, in the year 1801; and though it had not perhaps at
that time been put into the hands of the stone-cutter, it was obvious
that it might also be applied to his purpose with equal effect.

It may further be noticed, regarding this useful implement, as strongly
marking the prejudices of habit, that Mr Mylne, the proprietor of
Mylnefield Quarry, who, with enlightened views, furnished his works
with machinery of the very best description, among other articles,
provided a number of these jack-machines for his quarriers, but, for
a long time, they could not be induced to make use of them. One of
the men, however, happening, of his own accord, to apply the jack in
turning a heavy block, its utility soon became apparent; and Mr Allan
the manager, who had previously taken considerable pains to get the
jack introduced, was at length not a little pleased to find it, after
having been laid up in store as useless, in much request throughout
that extensive quarry.

[Sidenote: Lewis Bat.]

A Lewis Bat, of some form, for lifting large stones, is believed
to have been known to the ancients. But that now in common use is
generally understood to have been at least improved by the French
engineers, who, in honour of their Sovereign, gave it the name of
Lewis. This useful implement is so universally known in practice,
for its great utility in building with heavy materials, that it is
hardly necessary to do more than simply allude to it. It consists
of five pieces of iron, three of which, forming a dovetail, like
an inverted wedge or the keystone of an arch, are inserted into a
corresponding hole cut in the stone. The fourth is the bolt connecting
the shackle-piece, by which the weight is suspended, as will be better
understood by referring to the sketch or diagram illustrative of it in
Plate XI. Of this implement, it became necessary to furnish several
dozens, as well from the variety in the weight, as from the figure of
the stones, many of them requiring two Lewises to produce a proper
balance. But the number was more particularly encreased, from the
different sets required for the workyard, the stone-lighters, and for
the Bell Rock, where it was necessary to provide against loss, to which
this service was so peculiarly liable.

[Sidenote: Moulds.]

As the whole of the stones of each course or tier of this building were
connected or let into one another, by a system of dovetails, diverging
from the centre to the circumference, after the manner of the Edystone
Light-house, as will be seen from Plate XIII., each particular stone
required to be cut with accuracy, to fit its precise place in the
building; and as even the form into which the blocks of granite were
made, often depended upon the adventitious produce of the quarries, it
became a very considerable operation to prepare the necessary moulds
or patterns for the respective courses. When, therefore, the thickness
was ascertained that a lot of these stones would admit being dressed, a
plan of the particular course was first drawn upon paper by the Clerk
of Works; a certain compartment of the course was then protracted of
the full size, upon a platform of polished pavement, measuring 70 feet
in length, and 25 feet in breadth, and occupying part of the ground
floor of the workmen’s barrack. From this enlarged draught, Mr James
Slight, the principal mould-maker, took his dimensions in making the
moulds of the full size of the ground-plan of each stone, on which
were marked the necessary directions for the stone-cutter, both as
to the thickness of the course, and the position of the connecting
joggle-holes, trenails and wedges.

These moulds being made with great precision, were carefully marked
and numbered with oil paint, according to the positions which the
respective stones were to occupy. They were made of well seasoned
fir timber, and dressed clean in the form of open frame-work,
measuring from three to four inches in breadth, and from one-half to
three-fourths of an inch in thickness. At the angles and joints, thin
plates of iron were screwed upon these frames, to strengthen and
preserve them, while the workmen were making their draught-lines, and
in their numerous applications of them in the process of hewing the
stones. Each course of the solid part of the building required from
three to five moulds, of the form delineated in Plate X., which were
carefully laid aside in sets, till the particular course to which they
belonged should be landed upon the rock, and secured in the building.
In a work of this kind, such a precaution was indispensably necessary;
for, in case of loss or accident to any of the stones, in landing them
at the Rock, it would then only have been necessary to send to the
work-yard, referring to the particular number of the mould, from which
another stone could speedily have been prepared.

[Sidenote: Cofferdam.]

In the first designs for the Bell Rock Light-house, the writer had
modelled a cofferdam, five feet in height, intended to have been
erected of cast-iron, round the site of the building, that the work
in its early stages might be continued for a longer period, both
during the ebb and flood tides. The experience of last season’s work,
however, shewed that the erection of the proposed cofferdam would have
been attended with considerable difficulty; and, to have rendered
such an apparatus equally useful during ebb-tide as flood-tide, would
have required the pumping of water by machinery more complicated and
powerful than the situation of the Bell Rock would have admitted.

[Sidenote: Pumps.]

This idea was therefore laid aside, and two Pumps, of a simple
construction, were prepared, for clearing the foundation-pit of water.
They measured about twelve feet in length, and were of a square form,
both externally and internally, having each a void of ten inches. They
were made of fir timber, three inches in thickness, strongly jointed,
and put together with white-lead paint, having also a number of cross
bars and bolts of iron, to strengthen them for withstanding the
atmospheric pressure upon so considerable a surface. These pumps were
furnished with a wooden spear or rod, having a cross head or handle at
one end, and a leathern valve attached to the other. This valve was of
a very simple construction; it collapsed when plunged into the water,
and was inflated by the return draught delivering a quantity of water
equal to the cubical contents of the void or chamber of the pump.

[Sidenote: Winch-machines.]

There were four Crabs or Winch-machines prepared for working the
different purchases required in the various departments of the work,
as, for example, in lifting the stones from the praam-boats, as
represented in Plate XI. Another of these machines was fixed on
the temporary wooden bridge of communication, erected between the
Beacon-house and Light-house, as will be seen in Plate IX. Other two
of these machines are likewise represented for raising the stones
from stage to stage upon the building, as will be more particularly
described in the letter-press description of this Plate. These machines
were made wholly of iron, excepting the bushes for the gudgeons working
in, which were of bell-metal. They were calculated to work with what
is called _double and single purchases_, according to the weight of
the stones to be lifted. They were very powerful in their operation:
the winch or barrel being twelve inches in diameter, gave the single
purchase a power of about fifteen to one, and the double purchase about
sixty to one. These machines were calculated to work with five tons.
The weight of the largest size was altogether about 10 cwt., so that
they were not easily shifted by the impulse of the sea, when batted to
the rock, as represented in Plate XI.

_Building Materials._

[Sidenote: Stone.]

The Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, as before noticed,
having finally resolved that the erection upon the Bell Rock should
be of stone, constructed upon principles similar to the Edystone
Light-house, it became a question of importance in the economy of
the work, to fix the quality and description of stone to be used.
Considering this subject in reference to the Edystone Light-house,
it appears that the hearting or interior of the solid part is of
sandstone from Portland Island, and that the exterior of that building
is of Cornish granite, both of which were highly suitable in quality,
and were fortunately procurable from quarries the most contiguous to
Plymouth, where these works were situate.

[Sidenote: Mineralogy of the southern and eastern shores of Britain.]

It may farther be noticed, that granite is perhaps the only stone upon
the coast of England, which possesses durability for withstanding
the effects of the weather in a situation so exposed, or strength
sufficient for undergoing the process of landing the stones when
in their prepared state. In Scotland, however, the case is widely
different, for here, the country abounds with excellent building
materials of almost every description; and excepting in those districts
which produce granite, that stone is rarely had recourse to for
buildings of any description. It is curious to observe, and it may here
not be out of place to remark, in looking into the mineralogy of the
British coast, on the great scale, that we find the shores of the whole
southern parts of the kingdom, or from Portland Island in Dorsetshire,
to Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, consist chiefly of chalk, limestone,
clay, and beds of gravel. But if we continue our course from thence
northward, to Stonehaven in Kincardineshire, including the Frith of
Forth, the strata, with little exception, are sandstone, greenstone,
limestone and coal. The Aberdeenshire coast is chiefly of granite,
syenite, and gneiss, while a part of Banffshire consists of serpentine
and porphyry: but here the sandstone again makes its appearance, and
stretches along the northern shores of the Moray Frith, Caithness and
Sutherland, nearly as far to the westward as Cape Wrath. To this great
extent of sandstone country, may also be added the islands of Orkney
and Shetland, with some considerable exceptions, however, in so far as
regards Shetland; but, in Orkney, these are confined to comparatively
small portions of gneiss with granite veins, which occur in Pomona or
the Mainland, and in the Island of Græmsay.

From this state of the mineral strata, it naturally follows, that those
who inhabit the sandstone districts employ that beautiful, easily
worked, and, in many instances, highly durable stone, in architecture;
and so of the other districts, according to the predominating species
of their stone. For a building, therefore, in a country situate like
that of the Bell Rock, abounding with sandstone of the first quality,
this description of stone obviously presented itself, both as the most
accessible and economical. But when the importance of this work came to
be fully considered in all its relations, a little additional expence
was not to be allowed to regulate a point so essential, without a due
regard to what might ultimately prove the most durable and permanent

[Sidenote: The use of granite and sandstone is resolved upon.]

The attention of the Commissioners was consequently directed to the use
of granite, as combining the greatest number of properties for such a
building. Some doubts, however, having existed, as to the certainty
of procuring blocks of that stone of sufficient dimensions, it became
a matter of importance to determine this point, and also to ascertain
the quality of the sandstone, of which it had been proposed to form at
least the hearting of the solid part. The Commissioners, therefore, in
the month of November 1806, required a special opinion from Mr Rennie
and the writer upon this subject; who accordingly visited the sandstone
quarry of Mylnefield near Dundee, and the granite quarries in the
neighbourhood of Aberdeen, and made a report to the Board, which is
given in the Appendix, No. IV.

[Sidenote: Report of Mr Rennie and Mr Stevenson.]

This report sets forth, that many granite quarries were found in
activity at Aberdeen, some of which were capable of producing larger
blocks of stone than are usually met with, but that still it was
doubtful, whether any single quarry would be found to produce a
sufficient number of large blocks for this work in any reasonable time.
Upon the quality of the stones respectively; the report states, that
“the granite of Aberdeen is very strong and durable in its nature, and
having been used in works where the sea has acted upon it for time
immemorial, no doubt can possibly be entertained as to its adaptation
to a work of this kind. There is also every reason to believe that the
Mylnefield stone resists the sea and weather equally well, but we have
not been able to collect such positive proof of this as of the other;
for, although a great number of Mylnefield stones have been used in
the piers of the harbour of Dundee, yet, as these works consist of
stones from other quarries, having the same appearance, and nearly the
same composition, there is no possibility of our saying whether some
of the stones that appear in a wasting state, may not have been from
that quarry, although we have great reason to believe they have not.
However, where facts cannot be positively ascertained doubts exist,
and we think that a Light-house upon the Bell Rock is too important a
work to permit the leaving of the slightest doubt about the durability
of the materials. We have, therefore, no hesitation in recommending
that the outer part of the building, at least as high as the first
apartment, should be of granite; and as this is the great bulk of the
work, it may be as well to complete the outer course of granite.”

The Reporters then go on to state, from a review of the several quarry
prices, that, for the outer casing, the sum of about L. 2,500 would be
saved by the use of sandstone from Mylnefield, instead of granite from
Aberdeen; and that, for the hearting of the solid part, an additional
saving of about L. 1000 would further be made, if the sandstone of
the Redhead quarries, in the immediate neighbourhood of Arbroath,
instead of the Mylnefield stone, was used. On considering this subject,
however, in all its bearings, the Commissioners resolved that measures
should be taken for procuring granite for the whole outward casing of
the Light-house, and that the Mylnefield sandstone should be used for
the interior work. To the other properties of these stones, one of some
consideration for a work of this description was their ponderosity,
there being only about 13½ cubic feet of Rubislaw granite to the
ton, and 15 feet of Mylnefield stone, while the more common kinds of
sandstone contain about 15½ feet to the ton.

These, and other matters of minor importance alluded to in this report,
having been adjusted by the Light-house Board, the writer took the
necessary measures for entering into contracts and agreements for
the supply of stones from these quarries. The difficulties which
subsequently attended the procuring of a regular supply of stones for
the work have already been alluded to; and to this subject we shall
again have occasion to recur, as it was ultimately found necessary to
restrict the use of granite to the outward casing of the first thirty
feet or solid part of the building.

[Sidenote: Mortar of the ancients.]

The best composition for building-mortar appears to have been a problem
from the earliest history of the arts. Vitruvius, who lived about 130
years before the Christian æra, seems to have been practically, as well
as scientifically, acquainted with the whole subject of architecture.
But, although he, and other eminent authors who followed him, have
minutely treated of the composition of mortar, stating, no doubt, all
that was known of the practice of the ancients; yet, it has always
been a favourite maxim to maintain, that the secret of compounding
mortar has at some period of its history been irrecoverably lost. It
is certainly true, that many of the works of ancient times exhibit
wonderful specimens of the excellency of their building materials.
It may, however, be drawn no less conclusively from the writings of
intelligent travellers, that many of their finest edifices have been
subject to premature decay, which affords a proof that at least no
systematic rule was universally observed in the preparation of their
calcareous cements; but that, like the artists of the present day,
the quality of their materials depended much upon those adventitious
circumstances which too often regulate the views of their successors,
by an over-anxious desire for economy, without keeping duly in view the
permanency of their works.

[Sidenote: Attention of the moderns to this subject.]

In Great Britain, the composition of mortar does not seem to have
occupied much of the attention of the learned, prior to the beginning
of the 18th century, or the time of Sir Christopher Wren. And, indeed,
the subject was not pursued with much intelligence and effect, till
after the great discoveries of Dr Black, about the year 1754, which
unfolded the principles of latent caloric, and the expulsion of
fixed air, by which limestone loses about one-half of its weight
in the process of calcination. These discoveries were succeeded by
the excellent treatise of Dr Higgins on Water Cements, published in
1780; and in 1793, Mr Smeaton’s Narrative of the Edystone Light-house
appeared, containing, not only an account of the preparation of the
mortar for that celebrated building, but also of his experience for
thirty-six years, as an engineer of the most extensive practice of
his day. The composition of mortar has also occupied the attention of
several French authors, as Belidor, Loriot, Viccat and others, but
without perhaps adding much to our stock of practical knowledge.

[Sidenote: Experience of the writer.]

Were the writer permitted to state the result of his professional
observations for the last twenty years, he might notice, that no
error is more commonly met with in water buildings, than that of
employing house or common mortar in the erection of sea-walls. It may
also be stated, generally, in compounding mortar, that the cheapest
article is too apt to be made use of in the greatest proportion. We
accordingly find, that lime is not unfrequently made too _rich_, as it
is technically termed when a small proportion of sand is applied to the
mixture; an error, which is attended even with worse consequences than
when the lime is made _poor_, or when too great a proportion of sand is
used. But, perhaps, the worst of all mortar is that wherein very fine
_pit-sand_, containing a portion of earthy matters, is used, and when
the whole is mixed up with impure water. So little attention is often
paid to the quality of mortar, in common buildings, that one would
imagine it were applied, as if intended more to prevent the sifting
winds from penetrating the walls, than as the medium by which they were
ultimately to be bound or formed into a compact fabric.

It is not possible to give any formula for the composition of mortar
which will apply generally; so much depends upon the quality of the
limestone, the mode of its treatment in burning, the use of clean sharp
sand and pure water. When these ingredients are judiciously selected,
duly apportioned, and well beaten together, they will immediately form
a paste of some tenacity, which will ultimately take bond and give a
consistency to the work. From all the experiments that have been made,
it seems to be essential to the composition of the best water-cements,
that the limestone should contain about one-seventh of alumine or
clayey matter. But as this description of limestone admits of a less
proportion of sand in the mortar compounded of it, than that which is
more purely calcareous, it is not so much in request for the common
operations of building, as being less economical. It may, however,
be stated, as a pretty general maxim, that where comparatively pure
calcareous matter is met with, at least three measures of clean sharp
sand, free of earthy particles, mixed with one of burned lime, in the
state of powder, and a due portion of pure water, well beaten together,
will form good mortar for common use.

[Sidenote: Mortar of the Edystone.]

From the similarity of the situations and the buildings upon the
Edystone and Bell Rocks, and from Mr Smeaton’s celebrity as an
engineer, his Narrative of the former work became a text-book to the
writer in the erection of the latter. In considering the importance of
this subject, with a view to the erection of the Bell Rock Light-house,
the judicious remarks, and numerous experiments, of Dr Higgins on water
cement, were carefully examined, and they will always be consulted with
interest by the professional reader. The composition of the Edystone
mortar consisted of equal portions, by measure, of Aberthaw lime and
Pozzolano earth, both in the state of powder, mixed up with sea-water.
When the writer first visited Plymouth in the year 1801, the Edystone
Light-house had been erected about 42 years; and he was informed by Mr
Tolsher, agent for the establishment, that the original pointing of the
joints of that building had never required repair.

[Sidenote: Bell Rock Mortar.]

Of the ingredients of the Bell Rock mortar, as the pozzolano was not
only the most expensive, but, from the distracted state of Europe,
during the progress of the works, could hardly be procured at any
price, it became an object to be as independent of that article as
possible. A train of experiments was therefore undertaken by the
writer, when it was ultimately found, that pozzolano and lime, in
the state of a dry impalpable powder, and clean sharp sand, in equal
proportions by measure, mixed with sea-water, formed a mortar equally
good in all respects as when no sand was added. Under favourable
circumstances, this mixture did not seem to be more tardy in fixing,
than when the sand was excluded, while nothing could exceed the compact
and indurated state of the composition. The writer accordingly built
some small rubble-walls with it within sea-mark, which were allowed
to stand for a few months, and when pulled down, they appeared like
so many pieces of conglomerated rock, the mortar being as hard and
compact as the sandstone of good quality with which these little walls
were built. From the excellency of the Bell Rock mortar, it may not
be amiss to go a little farther into detail, by noticing each of the
ingredients of which it was composed.

[Sidenote: Lime.]

In the course of investigating this subject, specimens of lime,
from the counties of Edinburgh, Haddington, Fife and Forfar, were
subjected to various trials with mixtures of pozzolano and sand. The
results were not a little curious, as the experimental balls, made
with different proportions of these limes, did not set or harden;
but, on the contrary, the particles seemed to repel each other as the
mixture became heated, and ultimately crumbled into its constituent
ingredients. From these experiments, it was found advisable to bring
a cargo of limestone from Aberthaw in Wales, being the same as that
used for the Edystone Light-house. This lime is found imbedded in a
clayey matrix, in the state of water-worn nodules, varying in size from
a cubic inch to that of a cubic foot. This limestone is of a bluish
or beautiful French grey colour, of the specific gravity of 2.70.
It is easily calcined, and in that state is reducible to the finest
powder. It is the mountain or first flœtz limestone of geologists; and,
when broken, it pretty generally displays the _Cornua ammonis_, and
many other curious animal remains. This limestone is found in great
abundance on the sea-shore at Aberthaw, where the softer matters being
washed away from the lower stratum of certain high cliffs, containing
these rounded masses, the upper parts fall in great quantities, from
which the succeeding tides wash away the earthy matters, leaving the
limestone upon the beach in the state of debris. When a vessel is to
load limestone here, she is grounded on the shore at about half-tide,
and loaded when the water recedes. The price paid to the proprietor for
a cargo is at the rate of one shilling _per_ ton, as a lordship.

[Sidenote: Pozzolano.]

Pozzolano, the second mentioned ingredient of the Bell Rock mortar, is
a kind of earthy lava, of a brownish red or greyish colour. It contains
in the hundred parts, silica 55, alumina 20, lime 5, and oxide of iron
20. It was not so easily procured as the limestone from Aberthaw. It
is very abundant on the coast of Italy and shores of Sicily, where it
is found in considerable masses, and is usually imported in a crude
earthy state, requiring to be pounded, or beat in a mill, to fit it for
the finer purposes of mortar. It is generally brought to this country
as ballast; and, in time of peace, when the ports are open, is sold
for about L. 5 _per_ ton. During the progress of the Bell Rock works,
however, from the long continued and almost universal restrictions upon
British trade with foreign ports, as much as L. 15 _per_ ton has been
paid for pozzolano for the use of these works. The writer having had
great difficulty in procuring a supply of it for commencing the works,
got a quantity of Tarras from Holland, the Dutch ports being, at this
time, open to British vessels. Tarras or Trass is found near Andernach,
and is brought down the Rhine to Holland. It is very similar in its
nature and properties to pozzolano, and, like it, is of a reddish or
greyish colour. It contains 37 parts silica, 28 alumina, 6.5 lime
and 8.5 iron. Its property of setting in water is very remarkable,
and, when good, it admits even a greater proportion of lime in the
composition of mortar than pozzolano. The Dutch are very attentive in
ascertaining the quality of the trass before using it in building their
dikes. The following simple experiment is always employed. A small
vessel, made of a mixture of lime and trass, is filled with water,
and if at the end of three days the water does not filter through the
vessel, the trass is considered good; if, on the contrary, water passes
through, the trass is rejected as bad.

[Sidenote: Sand.]

According to Dr Higgins, the sand used for mortar should be free of
earthy particles, and have as many sharp angular points as possible.
The writer having accordingly examined the shores in the neighbourhood
of Arbroath, for sand answerable to this description, he found it of
excellent quality about a mile and a half westward from that place.
Upon examining this sand with a magnifying-glass, its appearance was
like so many small shining crystals shooting into numerous points.--It
is often a difficult question with mineralogists, to account for the
production of sand in many situations upon the coast; but here the
question involves no perplexity, as St Andrew’s Bay, which is generally
understood to extend from Fifeness to the Redhead, a distance of about
25 miles, is not only bounded by sandstone, but forms the embouchure of
the river Tay, and of several other considerable streams, which fall
into the sea upon its shores.

[Sidenote: Water.]

It usually forms a condition in the Specification of mortar for
house-building, that it shall be mixed with pure water, free of
earthy or saline particles. In situations where water is scarce, many
impurities are apt to be mixed with it, which injure and even destroy
the adhesive quality of the mortar. The use of sea or salt water is
guarded against in these cases, from its liability to produce an
efflorescence on the walls; when the saline particles deliquesce with
the changes of the weather, and produce the appearance of dampness.

To have attempted to avoid the use of salt-water in the preparation of
the mortar for the Bell Rock Light-house,--which was all prepared on
the spot,--independently of the risk of deteriorating the mortar, would
have been attended with much additional trouble and expence. Besides
the practice at the Edystone, the writer had previously ascertained,
that the use of sea-water produced no bad effect upon the tenacity or
adhesive quality of the mortar into which it was introduced, and the
object of avoiding the appearance of dampness in this building was
extremely trifling. The stones were to be very correctly jointed, and
the whole of the interior walls to consist of polished masonry, so that
the fine lines of the joints exposed to the action of the air were so
inconsiderable, as hardly to be taken into account. Salt-water was,
therefore, uniformly used in the preparation of the Bell Rock mortar.

[Sidenote: Cement.]

The recent discovery of a very excellent water-cement, for which Mr
Parker of London obtained a patent, under the title of “Roman Cement,”
became another matter of importance to the Bell Rock works. This
substance is produced from calcined nodules of argillaceous limestone,
found upon the southern shores of England. It is of a brownish colour,
and from its excellent property of setting in water, when good and
fresh, its application as a mortar, for the lower courses of the
Light-house, demanded attention. But, for general use as a mortar,
it would not only have been expensive, but often highly inconvenient
in building, from the speedy manner in which it hardens. It is also
of too brittle a nature to be suitable for the general purposes of
common mortar; though it forms a paste of great value for _lipping_ or
pointing the outward joints of water buildings, not only by preserving
the mortar till it gets into a fixed state, but also as forming a
durable joint. A considerable supply of this cement was accordingly
used throughout the building, for pointing the exterior joints. This
cement is sold at the rate of five shillings per Winchester bushel, in
the state of powder, packed into casks, lined with paper, to prevent
it, in some measure, from imbibing humidity from the atmosphere, by
which its adhesive properties are destroyed.

[Sidenote: Oaken Trenails and Wedges.]

Following out the principle of the Edystone Light-house in most of its
details, the oaken trenail and wedge were used for fixing the stones,
till the mortar took band, and a superincumbent weight was got upon
them to prevent the sea from sweeping them away. These being also
introduced into all the lower courses of the Bell Rock Light-house, a
sufficient quantity was procured for the probable number of courses
that might be built during the ensuing season. The precise lengths of
the trenails and wedges could not be fixed, from the uncertainty of
the granite quarries, which regulated the thickness of the courses of
the building; but, for the present, the trenails were provided of the
length of 2 feet, and 1¼th inch in diameter. The wedges were of the
length of 18 inches, measuring 3 inches in breadth, 1 inch in thickness
at the top, and tapering to ¼th of an inch in thickness at the point,
as will be seen in Plate X. Figs. 10. and 11. But when we come to speak
of the process of building, their respective uses will be described.

[Sidenote: 1808, March.]

[Sidenote: The writer visits the Bell Rock.]

On the writer’s visit to Arbroath, in the end of March, he was anxious
to land upon the Bell Rock, to ascertain the precise state of the
Beacon, after the storms of the winter, that he might be enabled to
judge of the propriety of converting it into a habitable place for
the artificers during the working season. He accordingly sailed from
Arbroath on the 30th current, at 1 A. M. in the Light-house Yacht. The
wind was from E.NE., but the weather, though cold, was upon the whole
favourable for the trip. At 7 the Floating-light was hailed, and all
on board found to be well. It was now unfortunately too late in the
tide for landing upon the rock this morning; and it became necessary to
cruise about till the following day, there being at this season only
one tide with daylight. In the mean time, in sailing round the rock,
just as it was beginning to be covered with the tide, the base of the
Beacon was distinctly seen between the rolling seas, which broke upon
it; while at the top, the flag-staff proudly continued to surmount the

[Sidenote: Floating-Light.]

In the course of the day the writer examined the Floating-light,
where every thing connected with the security of the vessel, and her
moorings, was in good order. What seemed chiefly to please Mr Wilson
the commander, was a late improvement in the application of a winch,
with wheel and pinion fixed at the break of the quarter-deck, which was
now employed to great advantage in working the cable with stoppers as
on board of war-ships, the hempen cable, forming part of her moorings,
being too thick and unwieldy for _holding-on_ by hand. The vessel’s
manner of riding during some late gales was described as having been
very difficult, and even alarming at times; but it was nevertheless,
added, that nothing had been felt so severely as the gale of the 6th
and 7th of September last, when the writer was on board.

[Sidenote: The crew spend their time happily.]

The crew were observed to have a very healthy-like appearance, and
looked better than at the close of the works upon the rock. They
seemed only to regret one thing, which was the secession of their
cook, Thomas Elliot,--not on account of his professional skill, but
for his facetious and curious manner. Elliot had something peculiar
in his history, and was reported by his comrades to have seen better
days. He was, however, happy with his situation on board of the
Floating-light, and, having a taste for music, dancing, and acting
plays, he contributed much to the amusement of the ship’s company, in
their dreary abode during the winter months. He had also recommended
himself to their notice as a good shipkeeper, for as it did not answer
Elliot to go often ashore, he had always given up his turn of leave to
his neighbours. At his own desire, he was at length paid off, when he
had a considerable balance of wages to receive, which he said would be
sufficient to carry him to the West Indies, and he accordingly took
leave of the light-house service.

[Sidenote: The Light is comparatively feeble.]

Mr John Reid, the principal light-keeper, stated, that every thing
specially connected with his department on board, answered its purpose
to his entire satisfaction. In stormy weather, however, when the ship
rolled much, great difficulty was experienced in trimming the lights,
which often required the assistance of all hands. In the course of this
night’s cruise, the writer had a good opportunity of observing the
lights at different distances from the vessel. Even at the distance
of two or three leagues, it appeared feeble, compared with a regular
reflecting-light. It was also upon the whole so unsteady, from the
rolling motion of the ship, that, in running for it, mariners could
never venture to make very free with their course.

[Sidenote: Landing at the rock found difficult.]

At day-break, on the following morning, the Light-house Yacht, attended
by a boat from the Floating-light, again stood towards the Bell Rock.
On coming within a proper distance of it, the usual tools carried by
the artificers on such occasions were put into this boat, and every
thing was got into a state of readiness for making an attempt to land.
The weather felt extremely cold this morning, the thermometer being at
34 degrees, with the wind at east, accompanied by occasional showers
of snow, and the marine barometer indicated 29.80. At half-past 7,
the sea ran with such force upon the rock, that it seemed doubtful if
a landing could be effected. At half-past 8, when it was fairly above
water, the writer took his place in the Floating-light’s boat with the
artificers, while the Yacht’s boat followed, according to the general
rule of having two boats afloat in landing expeditions of this kind,
that in case of accident to one boat, the other might assist. After
several unsuccessful attempts, the boats for a time were beat back by
the breach of the sea upon the rock. On the eastern side, it separated
into two distinct waves, which came with a sweep round to the western
side where they met; and at the instant of their confluence, the water
rose in spray to a considerable height. Watching what the sailors term
a _smooth_, we caught a favourable opportunity, and in a very dexterous
manner the boats were rowed between the two seas, and made a favourable
landing at the western creek.

[Sidenote: State of the Beacon.]

At the latter end of last season, as was formerly noticed, the Beacon
was painted white, and from the bleaching of the weather and the sprays
of the sea, the upper parts were kept clean; but within the range of
the tide, the principal beams were observed to be thickly coated with a
green stuff, the conferva of botanists. Notwithstanding the intrusion
of these works, which had formerly banished the numerous seals that
played about the rock, they were now seen in great numbers, having
been in an almost undisturbed state for six months. It had now also,
for the first time, got some inhabitants of the feathered tribe: in
particular the Scarth or Cormorant, and the large Herring-gull, had
made the Beacon a resting-place, from its vicinity to their fishing
grounds. About a dozen of these birds had rested upon the cross beams,
which, in some places, were coated with their dung; and their flight,
as the boats approached, was a very unlooked for indication of life
and habitation on the Bell Rock, conveying the momentary idea of the
conversion of this fatal rock, from being a terror to the mariner, into
a residence of man, and a safe-guard to shipping.

[Sidenote: Propriety of converting it into a Barrack.]

Upon narrowly examining all the parts of the Beacon, then in the state
represented in Plate VIII., and especially the great iron stanchions
with which the beams were fixed to the rock, the writer had the
satisfaction of finding that there was not the least appearance of
working or shifting at any of the joints or places of connection; and
excepting the loosening of the bracing-chains, every thing was found
in the same entire state in which it had been left in the month of
October. This, in the estimation of the writer, was a matter of no
small importance to the future success of the work. He, from that
moment, saw the practicability and propriety of fitting up the beacon,
not only as a place of refuge in case of accident to the boats in
landing, but as a residence for the artificers during the working
months. With a view to this, he determined on the entire removal of the
bracing-chains, which, in general, were either so relaxed or loosened
by the unlocking of the screws, the stretching of the links, or the
drawing of the chain-bats, from the tremulous motion of the beacon, as
to be comparatively of little use. Measures were therefore taken for
procuring great iron-bars to fix in a horizontal position between each
pair of the principal beams, at the height of about 8 feet from the
rock, as the best means of strengthening them.

[Sidenote: Bread and water chest.]

Having made these remarks upon the lower parts of the beacon, and
its connection with the rock, the writer ascended to the higher
parts, where he had also the satisfaction to find that the fixtures
of the cross beams were in the same good condition. Upon looking
into the bread and water-chest fixed on the top, in case of accident
to the boats, or in the event of shipwreck upon the Bell Rock, the
sea-biscuits which had been carefully put into a tin cannister, were in
good order; but, in the compartment of the chest allotted for water,
the fragments of several of the quart bottles in which it was contained
were found, which had probably burst with the freezing of the water,
for it can hardly be supposed to have arisen from the shaking or
tremulous motion of the beacon; be this as it may, only twelve of the
eighteen bottles remained entire.

[Sidenote: Advantages of the Beacon in its present state.]

While upon the top of the beacon, the writer was reminded by the
Landing-master, that the sea was running high, and that it would be
necessary to set off while the rock afforded any thing like shelter to
the boats, which, by this time, had been made fast by a long line to
the Beacon, and rode with much agitation, each requiring two men with
boat-hooks to keep them from striking each other, or from ranging up
against the beacon. But even under these circumstances, the greatest
confidence was felt by every one, from the security afforded by this
temporary erection. For, supposing that the wind had suddenly encreased
to a gale, and that it had been found unadvisable to go into the boats;
or, supposing they had drifted or sprung a leak from striking upon the
rocks; in any of these possible and not at all improbable cases, those
who might thus have been left upon the rock had now something to lay
hold of, and, though occupying this dreary habitation of the sea-gull
and cormorant, affording only bread and water, yet _life_ would be
preserved, and, under all such circumstances, the mind would still be
supported, by the hope of being ultimately relieved. After, with some
difficulty, getting off the Beacon, a proper time was again watched,
and, by active rowing, the boats soon cleared the Rock in safety,
though not without shipping two or three pretty heavy seas. About 12
noon the Light-house Yacht bore away, and at 7 in the evening she
reached the Bay of Arbroath, where the writer landed about 8 P. M., and
on the following day returned to Edinburgh.

[Sidenote: Impress Service, how it affected the Bell Rock operations.]

The Impress Service--that much-to-be-regretted system--being in great
activity, not only at the larger ports, but, owing to the pressure of
the war with France and the Northern Powers, orders having likewise
been issued for the establishment of an Impress at Dundee, Arbroath
and Aberdeen, it became necessary to be doubly careful in obtaining
protections for all our seamen. There being now five vessels employed
in the service of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses,
including the Bell Rock craft, a requisition was accordingly made
to the Admiralty for a protection for 35 seamen, which was readily
granted. In so far as the liberty of the subject is infringed by the
impress service, its existence is much to be regretted; but, in regard
to the works in question, it had the effect of rendering them popular,
instead of their being shunned by seamen, which might otherwise have
been the case.

[Sidenote: Protection Medal.]

As the impress officers were extremely rigid in the execution of their
duty, it became necessary to have the seamen carefully identified;
and, therefore, besides being described in the usual manner in the
Protection-bills, which, agreeably to the Admiralty regulations, must
always remain on board of the respective ships for which they are
granted, it was found advisable to give each man a ticket, descriptive
of his person, to which was attached a silver medal emblematical of
the Light-house service, as represented in Plate XII. On the one side
of this medal was the figure of the Bell Rock Light-house, and on the
other, the word ‘Medal,’ referring to the Admiralty Protection, and a
description of the person by the Engineer. The following is a copy of
the ticket of one of our best seamen.

[Sidenote: 1808, April.]

[Sidenote: Protection Ticket.]

 “_Bell Rock Work-yard, Arbroath, 31st March 1808._

  “John Pratt, seaman in the service of the Honourable the
  Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, aged 35 years, 5 feet 8
  inches high, black complexion, and slightly marked with the small-pox.

 “_Engineer for Northern Light-houses_.”


  “The bearer John Pratt, is serving on board of the Sir Joseph
  Banks Tender and Craft, employed at the erection of the Bell Rock

 The signature of the Master of the Tender,      “DAVID TAYLOR.

 The signature of the bearer,                    “JOHN PRATT.”

These tickets were found to be indispensably necessary in the
Light-house service, as it was impossible that every man, or even each
boat’s crew, could carry the ship’s protection about with them. But the
check afforded by the several signatures as noted above, was generally
respected by the Impress officers.

[Sidenote: Light-house Yacht again visits the Rock.]

Directions having been given in the month of March for tightening the
bracing-chains, and fixing certain ring-bolts, both at the eastern and
western landing places of the rock, for the conveniency of the boats,
the Light-house Yacht again sailed on the 12th of April, carrying off
artificers and all necessaries for the service. After accomplishing
this duty she returned to Arbroath on the 14th, and in this state
things remained till the commencement of the works in the month of May.

[Sidenote: Preparatory state of the Works.]

The several implements already alluded to and described, were in a
state of great forwardness about the close of the winter, having been
prepared in Edinburgh, under the immediate directions of the writer.
At Aberdeen, Mr Alexander Gildowie, stone-agent, used every exertion
to procure an additional supply of granite from Rubislaw and other
quarries. But the severity of the winter was such as to prevent much
progress from being made. At Mylnefield Quarry, owing to the liability
of that stone to board or split in frosty weather, from its lying in
regular strata, by which moisture is more readily absorbed and acted
upon in the laminæ, the operations had been entirely suspended for
several months.

[Sidenote: Use of Granite restricted to the lower courses.]

In the month of April, the writer visited the works at Arbroath,
which he found still in a much retarded state, for want of a regular
supply of granite. Owing to this, it had not as yet been possible to
complete even one entire course of the building, although the figure
and dimensions of the moulds had been repeatedly altered to accommodate
the quarries. It had already become apparent, that the works would
unavoidably be stopped, if the whole of the outward casing were to
consist of granite. In order, therefore, to avoid a circumstance which
might prove hazardous to the whole operations, the Light-house Board
resolved to restrict the use of this material to the lower courses of
the building.

[Sidenote: Use of Sandstone extended.]

It having thus been found necessary to lessen the quantity of granite
at the Bell Rock, and proportionally to encrease the quantity of
sandstone, a new engagement was entered into with the proprietor of
Mylnefield, for an additional supply, at the rate of one shilling and
sixpence _per_ cubic foot, put free on board. On visiting this quarry
in the month of April, the writer had assurance of being largely
supplied with stone, if a greater range or variety in the thickness
of the courses were allowed. This, however desirable, was altogether
impossible, in so far as regarded the lower courses; the thickness
of which could only be regulated piecemeal, as the dimensions of the
granite stones could be determined.

[Sidenote: Mr Skene’s contract to supply Granite.]

Every exertion had already been made on the part of Mr Skene of
Rubislaw, who had entered into a contract with the Light-house Board to
supply granite, at the rate of one shilling and threepence per cubic
foot, for the use of the Bell Rock,--having been chiefly induced to
enter into this contract, on account of the celebrity of the work;--but
after furnishing a few of the lower courses, he found that he could
not implement his agreement without incurring considerable loss, and
running the risk of retarding the building: he therefore applied to be
relieved of his contract. From the commencement of the work, Mr Skene
had, with much liberality, stated, that in case the quarries upon his
estate should be found defective in producing the necessary size and
quantity of materials, his contract should never be allowed to form any
bar or stoppage to the Commissioners in applying to others. This had
accordingly been acted upon by the Stone-agent; but after making every
exertion for the space of about 12 months, he had been able to procure
only a few additional blocks of the requisite dimensions, even with
the range of all the quarries of Aberdeen, besides those of Rubislaw.
The price of suitable blocks had, in the mean time, advanced to three
shillings and threepence, and even to five shillings per cubic foot. At
the commencement of the Bell Rock works, the quarries of Aberdeen were
chiefly worked for paving-stones, and for common house purposes, and
were consequently unprovided with implements or tools suitable either
for working or transporting stones of large dimensions, for which they
had hitherto had no regular demand.

[Sidenote: He is remunerated for loss.]

Mr Skene having sustained considerable pecuniary loss, in opening
additional quarries for the Light-house, he had certain claims upon the
Board, which were remitted to Mr Kennedy, advocate, of Aberdeen, upon
whose opinion and report remuneration was made to the extent of about
L. 370.

[Sidenote: The Sir Joseph Banks takes the station of the Light-house

The Light-house Yacht being employed in the general service of the
Northern Light-houses, she left the Bell Rock on the 16th of April,
to load stores at Leith. But the Sir Joseph Banks Tender being now
completely equipped, she sailed to supply her station, for the first
time, on the 20th of May, having on board several sets of moorings for
the use of the vessels in attendance at the Rock. The mushroom-anchors
of these moorings weighed about one ton each, and had about thirty-two
fathoms of chain attached to them, which was made from iron, measuring
seven-eighths of an inch in thickness. These moorings were laid down in
fourteen fathoms water, at about 200 fathoms apart, on a rocky bottom,
and at the distance of about a quarter of a mile on the north-western
side of the Rock, as will be seen from Plate V. After completing this
operation, and supplying the Floating-light with necessaries, the
Tender returned to Arbroath previously to the commencement of the
operations at the Rock for the season.

[Sidenote: 1808, May.]

[Sidenote: Wednesday 25th.]

[Sidenote: The writer begins the operations of the season.]

In the month of May, the number of artificers in the work-yard,
consisting of masons, smiths, mill-wrights, joiners and labourers,
amounted to sixty. On the 25th, the writer embarked at Arbroath, on
board of the Sir Joseph Banks, for the Bell Rock, accompanied by Mr
Logan _senior_, foreman-builder, with twelve masons, and two smiths,
together with thirteen seamen, including the master, mate and steward.
The vessel sailed at 3 o’clock P. M., under a salute of three hearty
cheers from a great assemblage of people on the quays; but before
getting to the Rock, it was too late for making fast to the moorings
that night; and she kept cruising about, with the Floating-light in
view, which proved a great comfort to the seamen, in directing them to
tack the ship, before she got too near the Rock.

On this occasion, the prospects of the writer were very different
from the state of things upon his sailing to commence the last year’s
operations, when much doubt and uncertainty attended every step. The
experience of last season, together with the facility and confidence
afforded by the erection of the Beacon, which had withstood the storms
of a winter, together with the use of a new Tender, which could now be
moored so near to the Rock as to be perfectly convenient for the boats,
and was at the same time capable of being cast loose from her moorings,
to take the people on board on any emergency;--these circumstances gave
a degree of security and promptitude to the work, which relieved all
concerned of much anxiety.

[Sidenote: Thursday 26th.]

The wind to-day was at south-east, and though the weather was not
very pleasant, yet it was moderate. Mr James Wilson, now Commander
of the Pharos Floating-light, and Landing-master, in the room of Mr
Sinclair, who had left the service, came into the writer’s cabin this
morning at 6 o’clock, and intimated that there was a good appearance
of landing on the rock. The bell being accordingly rung, the boats
were hoisted out, and at half-past 7 the artificers were seated and
arranged by the landing-master in their respective boats, who, with
the foreman-builder, went into the boat on the _off-side_, while the
writer steered the one on the side of the ship next to the Rock. Every
thing being arranged, both boats proceeded in company, and at 8 A. M.
they reached the Rock. The light-house colours were immediately hoisted
upon the flag-staff of the Beacon, a compliment which was duly returned
by the tender and floating-light, when three hearty cheers were given,
and a glass of rum was served out to all hands, to drink success to the
operations of 1808.

[Sidenote: State of the Bell Rock after the storms of winter.]

When the writer made a landing here, in the month of March, he was
so entirely occupied in examining all the parts of the Beacon, that
little attention was paid to the general appearance of the Rock.
Its surface was now found to be covered with a new crop of _Fuci_,
where it had been destroyed and rubbed off in the course of the last
season. Even the iron work, and lower parts of the Beacon, and the
site of the foundation of the Light-house, where it had been dressed
and worked with the pick, was now also thickly coated with a species
of _Conferva_, of a deep green colour, resembling very fine grass
where the water had left it, while in the pools it had the most
beautiful arborescent appearance. The limpets and white bucky were,
as formerly, in considerable numbers, and the barnacle had coated all
the higher parts of the rock, giving it a whitish appearance. On the
extreme points, a few detached clusters of mussels were seen, of a very
diminutive size, varying from a quarter to half an inch in length.
The six blocks of granite, which had been landed as an experiment
on the 1st of September 1807, were now scattered about in different
directions, covered with the delicate looking plant above described.
The general aspect of the rock remained otherwise unaltered.

[Sidenote: State of the Foundation-pit.]

The north-western half of the site of the building being higher than
the other, it had, in the course of last season, been wrought down to
a regular surface; but the other half contained depressions or holes,
varying in depth from six inches to no less than three feet. By 8
o’clock the tide had left the higher parts of the foundation dry, when
it appeared from observation, that the water ebbed at the rate of one
inch in two minutes and thirty seconds, and that the difference of
the perpendicular height, between the lowest and highest parts of the
foundation-pit, at the commencement of the works this season, was still
about four feet. After having been an hour and three quarters at work,
the water began to overflow the site of the building, when the boats
left the rock, the landing-master taking the lead; but after getting
clear, he waited, agreeably to usual practice, till the other boat got
out of the creek, when both proceeded for the Tender.

[Sidenote: Landing attended with considerable difficulty.]

In the evening tide the artificers landed at a quarter past 7, though
the sea ran pretty high, and the boats shipped a good deal of water.
Being rather early in the tide for working at the site of the building,
the time was occupied in getting the smith’s forge put in order upon
the cross-beams of the Beacon, a step of great importance to the future
progress and advancement of the work. At half-past 7, the higher parts
of the foundation being left dry, a few of the artificers set to work,
the others beginning as the water went off. At half-past 9 the tide
again overflowed the rock, when the boats left it, after the artificers
had been two hours at work. In coming out at the eastern creek this
evening, the landing-master’s boat was struck by a heavy sea, and
thrown to one side of the creek; but, by his dextrous management, the
boat’s head was fortunately kept seaward, and she got out in safety,
though not without having shipped a good deal of water.

[Sidenote: Friday, 27th.]

This morning the wind was at east, blowing a fresh gale, the weather
being hazy, with a considerable breach of sea setting in upon the
rock. The morning-bell was therefore rung, in some doubt as to the
practicability of making a landing. After allowing the Rock to get
fully up, or to be sufficiently left by the tide, that the boats might
have some shelter from the range of the sea, they proceeded at 8 A. M.,
and upon the whole made a pretty good landing; and after two hours and
three quarters’ work returned to the ship in safety.

[Sidenote: Found necessary still to excavate to the depth of fourteen

In the afternoon the wind considerably increased, and as a pretty heavy
sea was still running, the Tender rode very hard, when Mr Taylor, the
commander, found it necessary to take in the bowsprit, and strike
the fore and main top-masts, that she might ride more easily. After
consulting about the state of the weather, it was resolved to leave
the artificers on board this evening, and carry only the smiths to
the Rock, as the sharpening of the irons was rather behind, from
their being so much broken and blunted, by the hard and tough nature
of the rock, which became much more compact and hard as the depth of
excavation was increased. Besides avoiding the risk of encumbering the
boats with a number of men, who had not yet got the full command of
the oar in a breach of sea, the writer had another motive for leaving
them behind. He wanted to examine the site of the building without
interruption, and to take the comparative levels of the different
inequalities of its area; and as it would have been painful to have
seen men standing idle upon the Bell Rock, where all moved with
activity, it was judged better to leave them on board. The boats landed
at half-past 7 P. M., and the landing-master, with the seamen, was
employed during this tide, in cutting the sea-weeds from the several
paths leading to the landing-places, to render walking more safe,
for, from the slippery state of the surface of the rock, many severe
tumbles had taken place. In the mean time the writer took the necessary
levels; and having carefully examined the site of the building, and
considered all its parts, it still appeared to be necessary to excavate
to the average depth of fourteen inches, over the whole area of the
foundation. Having made these remarks, we again left the rock, at
half-past 9, after having been two hours upon it. At the entrance of
the eastern creek, the sea ran high, and all on board got a thorough
wetting; but so long as the boats were kept from striking upon the
rock, the sprays which came on board were but little regarded.

[Sidenote: Saturday 28th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers much afflicted with sea-sickness.]

The wind still continued from the eastward, with a heavy swell; and
to-day it was accompanied with foggy weather, and occasional showers of
rain. Notwithstanding this, such was the confidence which the erection
of the Beacon had inspired, that the boats landed the artificers on the
Rock, under very unpromising circumstances, at half-past 8, and they
continued at work till half-past 11, being a period of three hours,
which was considered a great tide’s work, in the present low state of
the foundation. Three of the masons on board were so afflicted with
sea-sickness, that they had not been able to take any food for almost
three days, and they were literally assisted into the boats this
morning by their companions. It was, however, not a little surprising,
to see how speedily these men revived upon landing on the Rock and
eating a little dulse. Two of them afterwards assisted the sailors in
collecting the chips of stone, and carrying them out of the way of
the pickmen; but the third complained of a pain in his head, and was
still unable to do any thing. Instead of returning to the tender with
the boats, these three men remained on the Beacon all day, and had
their victuals sent to them along with the smiths. From Mr Dove, the
foreman-smith, they had much sympathy, for he preferred remaining on
the Beacon at all hazards, to be himself relieved from the malady of
sea-sickness. The wind continuing high, with a heavy sea, and the tide
falling late, it was not judged proper to land the artificers this
evening, but in the twilight the boats were sent to fetch the people on
board who had been left on the Rock.

[Sidenote: Sunday 29th.]

[Sidenote: Misunderstanding among the Artificers about their wages.]

The wind was from the S. W. to-day, and the signal-bell rung, as usual,
about an hour before the period for landing on the Rock. The writer was
rather surprised, however, to hear the landing-master repeatedly call,
“All hands for the Rock;” and, coming on deck, he was disappointed to
find the seamen only in the boats. Upon inquiry, it appeared, that some
misunderstanding had taken place about the wages of the artificers
for Sundays. They had preferred wages for seven days statedly, to
the former mode of allowing a day for each tide’s work on Sunday; as
they did not like the appearance of working for double or even treble
wages on Sunday, and would rather have it understood that their work
on that day arose more from the urgency of the case, than with a view
to emolument. This having been judged creditable to their religious
feelings, and readily adjusted to their wish, the boats proceeded
to the Rock, and the work commenced at 9 A. M. The artificers were
chiefly employed in removing the iron-stanchions, or frame-work of the
forge, which had last year been fixed on the rock, and which was now
set on a temporary scaffold erected for it on the Beacon. Having now
got two smiths’ hearths above the reach of the tide, the work of this
department made great progress, both in the sharping of the numerous
picks and irons, and in making bats for fixing the different railway
tracks upon the Rock. After getting three and a half hours’ work, the
boats returned to the ship at 12 noon, when the excellent prayer,
composed by the Rev. Dr Brunton, given in a former part of this work,
was read upon the ship’s quarter-deck, in the same manner as had been
done last year.

The sloop Smeaton arrived this afternoon with a quantity of cast-iron
rails, to be laid upon the Rock, for transporting the blocks of stone
from the different landing-places to the site of the building. She had
also on board some Norway logs, intended to be batted on the Rock, for
supporting the railways across the gullies, or inequalities of the
surface. The boats of the Sir Joseph Banks and Floating-light, being
employed during the evening tide in delivering the Smeaton, by landing
the cast-iron on the Rock, and bringing the timber on board of the
Tender, the artificers could not be landed this evening.

[Sidenote: Monday 30th.]

[Sidenote: Fish very abundant at the rock.]

The weather to-day was moderate, and there was much less breach in the
sea than there had been since the commencement of the work this season.
The wind kept steadily in the south-west, and the barometer had changed
its range from 29.40 to 29.90, and the thermometer from about 40° to
45°. The abundance of fish caught near the Rock was another proof of
the more favourable state of the weather; for the fish never failed
to come upon the anchorage-ground during good weather, while they as
regularly disappeared on a change for the worse.

The Tender’s bell rung this morning, as the signal for going to the
Rock, at 9 o’clock; and at half-past 9, the water having partially
left the foundation-pit, the work commenced, and continued two and
three-fourth hours, or till a quarter from 1 o’clock P. M., when the
tide again overflowed the whole site of the building. The masons
and seamen returned with the boats on board the Tender, but the
mill-wrights and joiners, who had come off with the Smeaton to fit up
the railways, and such of the masons as were apt to be sick, remained
with the smiths on the Beacon throughout the day.

[Sidenote: General usefulness of Sailors as men of all works.]

The number of workmen at the Rock was now increased to twenty-eight,
including six sailors from the landing-master’s crew, who were
constantly employed in baling water, and keeping the foundation clear
of the chips, struck off by the pick. They also conveyed the irons to
the forge, by hoisting them up to the Beacon by a _whip-tackle_. The
seamen were of the greatest service in many of the operations, for
_Jack_ is a man of all trades; but as they had their boats to attend,
and were always at the landing-master’s call, they were not taken into
account in the enumeration of artificers.

[Sidenote: Mortar Gallery fitted up.]

Mr Francis Watt commenced, at this tide, with five joiners, to fit up
a temporary platform upon the Beacon, about twenty-five feet above
the highest part of the Rock. This platform was to be used as the
site of the smith’s forge, after the Beacon should be fitted up as a
barrack; and here also the mortar was to be mixed and prepared for
the building, and it was accordingly termed the Mortar Gallery. This
platform was supported with joisting, well framed, and properly fixed
to the principal beams; but the flooring or boarding, though two inches
in thickness, was only slightly nailed to the joisting, so that when
the sea rose, and struck it in bad weather, it might lift, without
endangering the general frame of the fabric. At the end of the working
season this floor was lifted, and the joisting only left during the
winter months.

[Sidenote: Smeaton is ballasted at the Bell Rock.]

The landing-master’s crew completed the discharging from the Smeaton
of the remainder of her cargo of the cast-iron rails and timber. It
must not here be omitted to notice, that the Smeaton took in ballast
from the Bell Rock, consisting of the shivers or chips of stone,
produced by the workmen in preparing the site of the building, which
were now accumulated in great quantities on the Rock. These the boats
loaded, after discharging the iron. The object in carrying off these
chips, besides ballasting the vessel, was to get them permanently
out of the way, as they were apt to shift about from place to place,
with every gale of wind; and it often required a considerable time to
clear the foundation a second time of this rubbish. The circumstance
of ballasting a ship at the Bell Rock afforded great entertainment,
especially to the sailors; and it was perhaps with truth remarked, that
the Smeaton was the first vessel that had ever taken on board ballast
at the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 31st.]

The winds were variable to-day, but chiefly from the north, accompanied
with fine weather. On landing at a quarter from 11 A. M., the higher
parts of the site of the building were dry, and the work continued two
and a quarter hours, when it was again stopped by the return of the
flood-tide. The joiners and smiths, together with those who were apt
to be sick on board of the Tender, remained on the Beacon throughout
the day, and at a quarter past 1 P. M. the boats left the Rock with the

There were eighteen seamen from the Smeaton, Sir Joseph Banks, and
Floating-light, employed to-day under the direction of Mr Wilson, the
landing-master, in laying the cast-iron work of the railways in a
compact manner, into the various crevices and holes in the Rock, to
prevent its being tossed about by the sea, until it should be wanted in
the course of fixing the tracks to the Rock.

[Sidenote: Chips of the rock in great request at Leith.]

The Smeaton being finally discharged, and partly loaded with stone
shivers from the Bell Rock, she sailed for Leith, in order to fetch
the remainder of the cast-iron, and some additional logs of timber. Mr
Pool, the commander of this vessel, afterwards acquainted the writer,
that when the ballast was landed upon the quay at Leith, many persons
carried away specimens of it, as part of a cargo from the Bell Rock;
when he added, that such was the interest excited, from the number of
specimens carried away, that some of his friends suggested, that he
should have sent the whole to the Cross of Edinburgh, where each piece
might have sold for a penny.

[Sidenote: Fish caught at the Bell Rock.]

In the evening the boats went to the Rock, and brought the joiners
and smiths, and their sickly companions, on board of the Tender.
They also brought with them two baskets full of fish, which they had
caught at high water, from the Beacon, reporting, at the same time, to
their comrades, that the fish were swimming in such numbers over the
rock at high water, that it was completely hid from their sight, and
nothing seen but the movement of thousands of fish. They were almost
exclusively of the species called the Podlie, or young Coal-fish.
This discovery, made for the first time to-day by the workmen, was
considered fortunate, as an additional circumstance likely to produce
an inclination among the artificers to take up their residence in the
Beacon, when it came to be fitted up as a barrack.

[Sidenote: 1808, June.]

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 1st.]

The boats landed to-day at 11 A. M., but the tides being neap, the
water went off very slowly, and it was 12 noon before it left the
site of the building. After continuing at work one hour and three
quarters, the artificers left the rock with all hands, when the tender
immediately got under weigh, or rather _cast off_ from her moorings,
by simply letting go one end of the mooring hawser, and sailed for
Arbroath. But the wind being N.N.W., it was 8 o’clock P. M. before she
got into the harbour.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 4th.]

[Sidenote: First course finished to-day. Its cubical contents, &c.]

This being the birth-day of King George III., who now entered into the
70th year of his age, and 50th of his reign, a considerable effort
was made to get the first entire course of the building laid upon the
platform at Arbroath, where it was to be marked and numbered, and
made ready for shipping for the Rock. It may seem strange, that after
continuing the operations of the work-yard for about twelve months,
there should only have been but one course ready to ship for the Rock.
Such also was the difficulty of procuring granite of a large size,
that this course was obliged to be hewn of the thickness of only one
foot. The chief advantage of thick courses in water buildings, besides
a saving of hewing, is that of getting sooner out of the reach of the
tide, there being nearly as much time necessary for laying a thin
course as a thick one. The stones for the first entire course were not
quarried particularly for it, but were taken from the whole materials
in the yard. The enumeration of the various kinds and quantity of work
in this single course of the Light-house, may perhaps surprise the
reader. Though only one foot in thickness, it contained 508 feet cubic
of granite in outward casing; 876 feet cubic of Mylnefield stone in the
hearting; 104 tons of solid contents; 132 feet superficial of hewing
in the face work; 4519 feet superficial of hewing in the beds, joints
and joggles; 420 feet lineal boring of trenail holes; 378 feet lineal
cutting for wedges; 246 oaken trenails; 378 oaken wedges in pairs.

[Sidenote: Certainty of commencing building this season.]

In the work-yard, about sixty stone cutters were employed in hewing and
preparing the various courses of the solid part of the building. Stones
were now got pretty readily from Mylnefield quarry; and besides the
quarries at Aberdeen, others had been opened near Peterhead, belonging
to Mr John Hutchison, which produced a great many fine blocks. As much
of the Aberthaw limestone had been broken and prepared for burning
as would charge the kiln. A number of casks of the capacity of about
32 gallons, had also been provided and were ready to be filled, in
equal numbers, of clean sharp sand, lime and pozzolano earth, in the
state of fine powder. After much trouble and correspondence with
timber-merchants in Leith, London, and other parts, a considerable
quantity of trenails and wedges of British oak were procured, which
were to be used in connecting the courses of the solid part of the
building, while the works were low, and in danger of being washed away
or injured by the sea. These oaken trenails and wedges were made up in
bundles, containing about 20. In short, every thing was in a state of
readiness in the work-yard, for building the first three courses of
the Light-house. The preparations for its foundation at the Rock were
now also in considerable forwardness, and the works, upon the whole,
put on an appearance which left no doubt as to the commencement of the
building this season.

[Sidenote: Artificers sail for the Rock.]

The writer sailed from Arbroath in the evening of the 6th of June in
the Tender, with a fine breeze of northerly wind, having on board 34
artificers, consisting of masons, smiths, mill-wrights and joiners,
besides the landing master’s crew, consisting of twelve seamen, who
worked the ship. There were also on board Mr Peter Logan, foreman
builder; Mr Francis Watt, foreman mill-wright; Mr James Dove, foreman
smith; Mr James Wilson, landing master; Mr David Taylor, master; Mr
William Reid, mate, and Mr John Peters, steward, counting in all
fifty-four persons. The weather was clear, and the vessel had no sooner
got out of the harbour, than the lights of the float were distinctly
seen; and before day-break, the Tender was made fast to her moorings
off the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 7th.]

[Sidenote: Arrangements at landing at an early hour on the Rock.]

At 3 o’clock in the morning, the ship’s bell was rung as the signal
for landing at the Rock. These artificers, to which this had been the
first trip, found their quarters rather confined in the ship, and some
of them being sickly, were glad of an opportunity of landing, and came
almost immediately upon deck, notwithstanding the earliness of the hour
at which the tide happened. But those who were more accustomed to the
business, calculated their time, knowing that sufficient warning was
always given, especially at hours so early. When the landing was to be
made before breakfast, it was customary to give each of the artificers
and seamen a dram and a biscuit, and coffee was prepared by the steward
for the cabins. Exactly at 4 o’clock, the whole party landed from
three boats, including one of those belonging to the Floating-light,
with a part of that ship’s crew, which always attended the works in
moderate weather. The landing-master’s boat called the Seaman, but more
commonly the Life-boat, took the lead. The next boat called the Mason,
was generally, steered by the writer; while the Floating-light’s boat
Pharos, was under the management of the boatswain of that ship.

[Sidenote: How the Artificers are employed.]

Having now so considerable a party of workmen and sailors on the Rock,
it may be proper here to notice how their labours were directed.
Preparations having been made last month for the erection of a second
forge upon the beacon, the smiths commenced their operations, both upon
the lower and higher platforms, where forges had been erected. They
were employed in sharpening the picks and irons for the masons, and in
making bats and other apparatus of various descriptions, connected with
the fitting of the railways. The landing-master’s crew were occupied in
assisting the mill-wrights in laying the railways to hand. Sailors, of
all other descriptions of men, are the most accommodating in the use of
their hands. They worked freely with the boring irons, and assisted in
all the operations of the railways, acting by turns as boatmen, seamen,
and artificers. We had no such character on the Bell Rock as the
common labourer. All the operations of this department were cheerfully
undertaken by the seamen, who, both on the rock and on ship-board, were
the inseparable companions of every work connected with the erection
of the Bell Rock Light-house. It will naturally be supposed, that
about twenty-five masons, occupied with their picks in executing and
preparing the foundation of the light-house, in the course of a tide of
about three hours, would make a considerable impression upon an area
even of forty-two feet in diameter. But in proportion as the foundation
was deepened, the rock was found to be much more hard and difficult
to work, while the baling and pumping of water became much more
troublesome. A joiner was kept almost constantly employed in fitting
the picks to their handles, which, as well as the points of the irons,
were very frequently broken. At 8 o’clock, the water overflowed the
site of the building, and the boats left the rock with all hands for
breakfast. Several of the artificers would willingly have remained upon
the beacon to avoid the rolling motion and sickness incident to the
ship; yet, being all wetted, and those especially who were employed in
excavating the site of the light-house and railways, being completely
bespattered with the chips and particles elicited from the Rock, the
whole party embarked in the boats; but such as chose were at liberty to
return to the beacon with the smiths after breakfast.

[Sidenote: Interesting appearance of the Rock.]

Excepting at the erection of the principal beams of the beacon, the
Bell Rock this morning presented by far the most busy and active
appearance it had exhibited since the erection of the Beacon. The
surface of the Rock was crowded with men, the two forges flaming, the
one above the other, upon the Beacon, while the anvils thundered with
the rebounding noise of their wooden supports, and formed a curious
contrast with the occasional clamour of the surges. The wind was
westerly to-day, and the weather being extremely agreeable, as soon
after breakfast as the tide had sufficiently overflowed the rock to
float the boats over it, the smiths, with a number of the artificers,
returned to the Beacon, carrying their fishing-tackle along with them,
which had all been put in a state of requisition before they left the
shore. In the course of the forenoon, the Beacon exhibited a still more
extraordinary appearance than the Rock had done in the morning. The sea
being smooth, it seemed to be afloat upon the water, with a number of
men supporting themselves in all the variety of attitude and position;
while, from the upper part of this wooden house, the volumes of smoke
which ascended from the forges, gave the whole a very curious and
fanciful appearance.

[Sidenote: Artificers remain on the rock all day.]

The length of the day now afforded two tides with day-light. The boats,
therefore, landed the artificers at 5 o’clock P. M., and after three
hours’ work, as in the morning, all hands again left it at 8 o’clock,
and returned on board of the Tender. Those who had been left upon the
beacon, complained of being very tired, with supporting themselves so
long in one position without motion, or even a sufficient space to rest
their feet upon.

From the excellence of the weather, and for the greater conveniency of
the work, the Tender had been made fast to one of the Stone-lighter’s
floating buoys, to be nearer to the Rock than her own moorings, which
were placed at such a distance as might enable her, in casting off, to
clear the Rock on any tack. But, in the course of this tide, it was
observed that a heavy swell was setting in from the eastward; and the
appearance of the sky indicated a change of weather, while the wind was
shifting about. The barometer also had fallen from 30 to 29.60. It was
therefore judged prudent to shift the vessel to the SW. or more distant
buoy. Her bowsprit was also soon afterwards taken in, the top-masts
struck, and every thing made _snug_, as seamen term it, for a gale.
During the course of the night, the wind increased and shifted to the
eastward, when the vessel rolled very hard, and the sea often broke
over her bows with great force.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: Tender bears away for Leith Roads.]

Although the motion of the Tender was much less than that of the
Floating-light, at least in regard to the rolling motion; yet, she
_sended_ or pitched much. Being also of a very handsome build, and
what seamen term very _clean aft_, the sea often struck her counter
with such force, that the writer, who possessed the aftermost cabin,
being unaccustomed to this new vessel, could not divest himself of
uneasiness; for, when her stern fell into the sea, it struck with so
much violence, as to be more like the resistance of a rock than the
sea. The water, at the same time, often rushed with great force up the
rudder-case; and forcing up the valve of the water-closet, the floor
of his cabin was at times laid under water. The gale continued to
increase, and the vessel rolled and pitched in such a manner, that the
hawser by which the Tender was made fast to the buoy snapped, and she
went adrift. In the act of swinging round to the wind, she shipped a
very heavy sea, which greatly alarmed the artificers, who imagined that
we had got upon the Rock. But this, from the direction of the wind, was
impossible. The writer, however, sprung upon deck, where he found the
sailors busily employed in rigging out the bowsprit, and in setting
sail. From the easterly direction of the wind, it was considered most
advisable to steer for the Frith of Forth, and there wait a change
of weather. At 2 P. M. we accordingly passed the Isle of May; at 6
anchored in Leith Roads, and at 8 the writer landed, when he came in
upon his friends, who were not a little surprised at his unexpected
appearance, which gave an instantaneous alarm for the safety of things
at the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 9th.]

The wind still continued to blow very hard at E. by N., and the Sir
Joseph Banks rode heavily, and even drifted with both anchors ahead,
in Leith Roads. The artificers did not attempt to leave the ship last
night; but there being upwards of fifty-people on board, and the decks
greatly lumbered with the two large boats, they were in a very crowded
and impatient state on board. But to-day they got ashore, and amused
themselves by walking about the streets of Edinburgh, some in very
humble apparel, from having only the worst of their jackets with them,
which, though quite suitable for their work, were hardly fit for public
inspection, being not only tattered, but greatly stained with the red
colour of the rock.

[Sidenote: Friday, 10th.]

To-day the wind was at S. E., with light breezes and foggy weather. At
6 A. M. the writer again embarked for the Bell Rock, when the vessel
immediately sailed. At 11 P. M., there being no wind, the kedge-anchor
was _let go_ off Anstruther, one of the numerous towns on the coast of
Fife, where we waited the return of the tide.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 11th.]

Before leaving Leith Roads, the muster-roll was called, to see that
all hands were on board; and we also shipped an additional seaman. The
vessel, therefore, required a great stock of provisions and water, and,
from her very hampered situation, with the stores and apparatus of
various kinds which she had on board, it became necessary to embrace
every opportunity of filling up the stock of water, as landsmen use a
much greater quantity of that indispensable article for every purpose
than seamen. Mr Taylor, who commanded the Tender, and whose attention
in this respect was quite indefatigable, sent the boat ashore at
Anstruther, at a very early hour this morning, for an additional supply.

[Sidenote: Work continued on the Rock till midnight.]

Throughout these twenty-four hours, the winds were variable and the
weather was hazy. At 6 A. M. the Sir Joseph got under weigh, and at
11 was again made fast to the southern buoy at the Bell Rock. Though
it was now late in the tide, the writer being anxious to ascertain
the state of things after the gale, landed with the artificers, to
the number of forty-four. Every thing was found in an entire state;
but, as the tide was nearly gone, only half an hour’s work had been
got when the site of the building was overflowed. During the period of
high-water, the boats were employed in bringing stores and provisions
from on board the Smeaton, which had also returned from Arbroath,
whither she had run for shelter. In the evening the boats again landed
at 9, and, after a good tide’s-work of three hours, with torch-light,
the work was left off at midnight.

[Sidenote: Appearance of the Rock at night.]

To the distant shipping, the appearance of things under night on
the Bell Rock, when the work was going forward, must have been very
remarkable, especially to those who were strangers to the operations.
Mr John Reid, principal light-keeper, who also acted as master of the
Floating-light during the working months at the rock, described the
appearance of the numerous lights situate so low in the water, when
seen at the distance of two or three miles, as putting him in mind of
Milton’s description of the fiends in the lower regions; adding, “for
it seems greatly to surpass Will-o’-the-Wisp, or any of those earthly
spectres of which we have so often heard.”

[Sidenote: Sunday, 12th.]

The weather was somewhat blowy to-day, and the wind veered from E.
to S.W. The boats landed at a quarter past 9 this morning, but not
without considerable difficulty, owing to a heavy swell of sea which
accompanied the change of wind. After continuing at work for three
hours and a half at the site of the building, and the fixtures for the
railways, the water came in upon the artificers, and the boats left
the rock with all hands, after having experienced some difficulty at
the entrance of the eastern landing creek, by the breach of the sea.
In this respect, the larger boats of the new Tender were not found to
be so well adapted for pulling through a swell of sea in these narrow
creeks, as the smaller boats of the Floating-light. The breadth of the
former being greater, the oars were more apt to get entangled with the
sea-weed and jutting points of the rock, so that it was with difficulty
they could be equally pulled on each side; and if they did not exactly
stem the sea, but got a preponderance to one side, the waves were
apt to throw them upon the shelving rocks. Smaller boats, under these
particular circumstances, would have been more handy, but of two evils
we are often left to choose the least, and the larger boats were found
to be more generally useful. For the conveniency of accommodating a
greater number of artificers, it was necessary to have the boats of as
large dimensions as the Tender could stow; it being hardly possible in
this service to have more than two upon deck, and one over the stern.

[Sidenote: Sixty persons on the quarter-deck at prayers to-day.]

About 1 P.M. the boats returned to the Tender in safety; and prayers
were soon afterwards read upon deck, when all hands, including the
boats crews from the Floating-light and Smeaton, being present, they
counted sixty individuals. Owing to the difficulty experienced in
getting clear of the rock this morning, and the swell of the sea still
continuing, a landing was not attempted in the evening.

[Sidenote: Monday, 13th.]

The wind blew fresh from the S.W. this morning, and the tides were
again getting into the state of neap; yet the ebb was very considerable
yesterday, and some parts of the rock were even dry about half an hour
before the calculated time. The boats landed to-day at 11, and left
the Rock again at half-past 2 o’clock P. M. The artificers were again
landed in the evening, but the tide did not leave the foundation-pit.
All hands, however, were employed on the higher parts of the rock, in
the tracks of the railways, where bat-holes were to bore and seats for
the cast-iron props or supports of the railways to level. After being
employed in this manner for an hour and a half, the boats returned to
the Tender.

[Sidenote: Artificers appear backward in landing on the Rock to-day.]

From the difficulties attending the landing on the rock, owing to the
breach of sea which had for days past been around it, the artificers
showed some backwardness at getting into the boats this morning; but
after a little explanation this was got over. It was always observable,
that for some time after any thing like danger had occurred at the
Rock, the workmen became much more cautious, and on some occasions
their timidity was rather troublesome. It fortunately happened,
however, that, along with the writer’s assistants and the sailors,
there were also some of the artificers themselves who felt no such
scruples, and in this way these difficulties were the more easily
surmounted. In matters where life is in danger, it becomes necessary to
treat even unfounded prejudices with tenderness, as an accident, under
certain circumstances, would not only have been particularly painful
to those giving directions, but have proved highly detrimental to the
work, especially in the early stages of its advancement.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: Tender sails for Arbroath.]

The wind was at south this morning, accompanied with very heavy
showers of rain; and though the boats effected a landing at 12 noon;
yet, during the whole tide, there was not less depth than 15 inches
of water on the highest part of the site of the building, while the
sea was continually ranging into it. The artificers were, therefore,
employed on the higher parts of the eastern railway-track. After an
hour and three-quarters work, the boats returned to the Tender, which
had already cast off from her moorings, and kept plying about till
they left the rock with the artificers, when she immediately sailed
for Arbroath, and got into the harbour at 6 P. M. Here the artificers
were employed in the work-yard for six days, until the return of
spring-tides. During this interval ashore, the smiths were busily
employed in giving the picks and other tools a thorough repair. Every
measure was also adopted that could possibly facilitate the fitting up
of the railways, without the aid of which the blocks of stone could not
possibly be conveyed along the rugged surface of the rock after they
were landed.

[Sidenote: First entire course removed from the platform.]

The operations at the rock, both in the preparation of the foundation
of the building, and in the fitting up of the railways for landing the
materials, became more and more urgent as the work advanced ashore. The
first course had now been removed from the platform, and the greater
part of the second was laid in its place; and, in the course of three
weeks, it was also expected to be in readiness to ship for the rock,
while a number of the higher courses were in a considerable state of
forwardness. Some of the Aberthaw limestone having been burnt, and
reduced to a state of powder, it was put into casks, while equal
quantities of pozzolano and clean sharp sand were also made up in the
same manner, to be used in building up the inequalities on the south
east or lowest part of the margin of the foundation-pit, that by this
means the water might be more speedily pumped out, and a longer period
of the tide obtained for carrying on the work.

[Sidenote: Trial of the landing apparatus.]

It being apparent, from the present state of things, that we should
be ready for building in the course of the next spring-tides, if
the weather proved favourable, it was necessary to have all the
apparatus for landing the stones at the rock in a working state. While
at Arbroath, the writer had a trial made of one of the new praams
or stone-lighters, by towing her into the bay of Arbroath, with a
large stone upon deck, where the sloop Smeaton had been previously
anchored with her gaff-boom and tackle rigged. This experiment was
made in pretty rough weather, when the block of stone was lifted with
the tackle in and out of the Smeaton’s hold, and again placed on
the praam’s deck, as was to be done in the operation of landing at
the rock. The apparatus is represented in Plate XI., and the trial
was highly satisfactory, the tackle requiring only some trifling
alterations. The Smeaton was then brought into the harbour and trimmed
with ballast, consisting of pieces of granite, neatly fitted into her
hold, over which a platform was laid, which completed her for the
service of taking the stones from Arbroath to the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Monday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: Tender sails for the Rock.]

Things on shore having been thus arranged, the writer again embarked on
the 20th in the Sir Joseph Banks Tender, and sailed for the Bell Rock
at 1 P. M., accompanied by the sloop Smeaton, and having on board of
both vessels sixty-two artificers and seamen. At 8 the Floating-light
was hailed, and at 9 the Tender and Smeaton were made fast to their
respective buoys.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Fifty-eight artificers land.]

At 3 o’clock this morning, the bell was rung, as a signal for landing
at the rock. From the number of artificers, it required considerable
management and exertion on the part of the landing-master to get them
properly seated in the four boats belonging to the Tender, the Smeaton,
and Floating-light, which last attended the rock during the morning
tides, and assisted in all the operations of the landing-master’s
department. At 4 o’clock fifty-eight persons landed; but the tides
being extremely languid, the water only left the higher parts of the
rock, and no work could be done at the site of the building. A third
forge was, however, put in operation, during a short time, for the
greater conveniency of sharpening the picks and irons, and for purposes
connected with the preparations for fixing the railways on the rock.

[Sidenote: Advantage of a Bell as a signal at the Rock.]

The weather towards the evening became thick and foggy, and there was
hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the surface of the water; had it not
therefore been the noise from the anvils of the smiths who had been
left on the Beacon throughout the day, which afforded a guide for the
boats, a landing could not have been attempted this evening, especially
with such a company of artificers. This circumstance confirmed the
writer’s opinion with regard to the propriety of connecting large bells
to be rung with machinery in the light-house, to be tolled day and
night during the continuance of foggy weather, by which the mariner may
be forewarned of too near an approach to the Rock, while every distant
object is obscured in the mist.

The tides went so little back at the Rock to-day, that no work was done
excepting to the railways; it being impossible to pump the water out of
the foundation-pit, as the tide never left the south-eastern margin of
it. After remaining two hours, all hands returned towards the Tender,
where guns were occasionally fired, horns sounded, and the ship’s bell
tolled, as signals for the boats to find their way from the Rock to the
vessels; and, in this manner, the whole party got safely on board about
8 o’clock P. M.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 22d.]

At 6 A. M. the artificers landed, but the foundation could only be
partially cleared of water, so as to enable a few hands, standing
ankle-deep in water, to work round the edges where the site of the
Light-house was highest. After two and a half hours’ work, the boats,
with the artificers, returned to their respective ships.

[Sidenote: Building materials landed for the first time this season.]

This morning several casks of pozzolano, lime and sand were landed,
to make mortar, in order to build round the lower edges of the
foundation-pit. This being something like an approximation to the long
wished-for commencement of building the Light-house, the artificers
thought the opportunity too good to pass over in silence, and the casks
were accordingly landed under a salute of three hearty cheers. At half
past 6 P. M. the boats again landed upon the rock, but, even when the
tide was at the lowest, the water stood to the depth of 18 inches upon
the site of the building, and no work was done. This was rather a
relief to the smiths, who having no irons to sharp, got rapidly forward
with the necessary fixtures for the railways.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 23d.]

[Sidenote: Small ruble walls built instead of cofferdam.]

The weather continued to be extremely mild, and the winds were
generally from the eastward and southward, accompanied with thick
and hazy weather, which, in communicating with the rock, was not
only irksome but even dangerous. At 7 o’clock this morning, the tide
proving more favourable, the artificers began to work. At 9 the rock
was again overflowed, and the boats returned to the Tender after two
hours’ work. Part of the operations of this morning’s tide consisted in
building up the crevices and inequalities of the rock round the margin
of the foundation, with pozzolano mortar, and the chips produced from
the excavation, with a view to dam out the water. These little walls
varied from six inches to eighteen inches in height; a small sluice
or aperture being formed in one of them by which the water, during
ebb-tide, was allowed to drain off.

It formed part of the writer’s original design, as formerly noticed, to
erect a cast-iron coffer-dam of about five feet in height, round the
site of the building; but the surface of the rock was so irregular,
that the difficulty of tightening it, and also of emptying the
contained water, so as to get the benefit of it during ebb-tide, would
have been so great, that, taking these circumstances into account,
together, with the loss of time which would attend the erection of such
a preparatory work, the idea of a coffer-dam was laid aside, soon after
entering upon the actual execution of the work.

[Sidenote: Inconveniencies of foggy weather.]

The boats landed this evening, when the artificers had again two
hours’ work. The weather still continuing very thick and foggy, more
difficulty was experienced in getting on board of the vessels to-night,
than had occurred on any previous occasion, owing to a light breeze of
wind which carried the sound of the bell, and the other signals, made
on board of the vessels, away from the Rock. Having, fortunately, made
out the position of the sloop Smeaton, at the N.E. buoy,--to which we
were much assisted by the barking of the ship’s dog, we parted with the
Smeaton’s boat, when the boats of the Tender took a fresh departure for
that vessel, which lay about half a mile to the south-westward. Yet
such is the very deceiving state of the tides, that although there was
a small binnacle and compass in the landing-master’s boat, we had,
nevertheless, passed the Sir Joseph a good way, when, fortunately, one
of the sailors catched the sound of a blowing-horn. The only fire-arms
on board, were a pair of swivels of one inch caliber; but it is quite
surprising how much the sound is lost in foggy weather, as the report
was heard but at a very short distance. The sound, from the explosion
of gunpowder, is so instantaneous, that the effect of the small guns
was not so good as either the blowing of a horn, or the tolling of
a bell, which afforded a more constant and steady direction for the
pilot. It may here be noticed, that larger guns would have answered
better, but these must have induced the keeping of a greater stock of
gunpowder, which, in a service of this kind, might have been attended
with risk. A better signal would have been a bugle-horn, the tremulous
sound of which produces a more powerful effect in fog, than the less
sonorous and more sudden report of ordnance.

[Sidenote: Friday, 24th.]

The artificers landed to-day, both with the morning and evening tides.
During the first, they had two hours and three-quarters, and in the
latter, two hours and a quarter, making together five hours work; the
weather still continuing thick and foggy, with the wind at south-east.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 25th.]

The boats landed this morning at a quarter from 8 o’clock, and the
artificers left off work at half-past 10. During the evening’s tide,
the operations were again continued with torch-light, from half-past 7
till 11 o’clock P. M., having to-day had four hours and three-quarters
work upon the rock.

[Sidenote: Force of the sea upon the Rock.]

A remarkable fact may here be mentioned as an evidence of the force of
the sea upon the Bell Rock. The reader may remember, that the mushroom
anchor, with its chain and buoy, which had drifted during the very
hard gale of the 6th September 1807, were found upon the Rock after
the gale: at that time the buoy and chain were taken up, but the
anchor having got into a pretty large hole or cavity of the rock, no
convenient opportunity occurred for lifting it last season. No doubt,
however, was entertained that a mass of iron, weighing about a ton,
without any timber or buoyant matter attached to it, would remain in
this position undisturbed, till a convenient time should occur for
recovering it. But, at the commencement of the works this season, to
the surprise of every one, the anchor in question could not be seen.
To-day, however, it was discovered at the opposite side of the Rock,
by one of the smiths who was at work upon the highest platform of the
beacon; and the weather being extremely fine, it was weighed or lifted
by the landing-master’s crew. For this purpose, spars were laid across
two boats, between which the anchor was made fast: as the tide rose the
boats floated, and the anchor thus suspended, was conveyed to one of
the vessels in the offing; when a chain and buoy being attached to it,
it was again laid down in a proper _birth_, as the moorings of one of
the praam-boats.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 26th.]

The weather kept still very favourable for the operations at the rock,
though, from the prevailing fogs, it was not only inconvenient, but
hazardous, to ply even in the short distance between the rock and the
vessels in the offing. The boats landed this morning at half-past 8,
and again returned to the Tender at 12. In the evening, they landed at
half-past 8 and continued with torch-light till half-past 11 P. M.,
having had five hours work during the two tides.

[Sidenote: Monday, 27th.]

The weather was still thick and hazy, but the sea kept smooth, and the
tides were very favourable, so that in the morning, the artificers were
at work from half-past 8 till half-past 11 o’clock; and in the evening,
from a quarter past 9 till midnight; or had altogether five hours and
three-quarters work to-day.

The writer wishing, in such favourable weather, to try the
practicability of bringing the Stone-lighters directly into the landing
creeks of the Rock, with the stones and building materials, by which
great facility might occasionally be given to the work, in landing
the stones directly from the vessels, instead of doing it on all
occasions by loading and discharging the praam-boats; an experiment was
accordingly made this evening, and the sloop Smeaton was towed into
the eastern creek, when it was ascertained that her cargo, in such
weather, might have been very speedily landed. But when the tide left
the rock, the vessel heeled to the one side, her sails hung loose,
and she had so much the appearance of a wreck, that the sight cast an
immediate gloom particularly upon the countenances of the seamen, to
whom a vessel, in this state, could not be viewed without some degree
of horror. Whether it was partly from this circumstance, or that the
tide and weather would so seldom answer this nice operation, or that
the landing-master’s crew had become so expert in transporting the
praam-boats, the idea of laying the stone-vessels upon the rock, was,
from this night’s experiment, completely abandoned.

[Sidenote: Tuesday 28th.]

Land in the morning at 9, and continue at work till 1 P. M., and
again in the evening, when the work is continued by torch-light, from
half-past 10 till half-past 12, having had five hours’ work to-day.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 29th.]

The wind was at south-east this morning, with gentle breezes and clear
weather. The boats landed at 11 A. M., and the foundation pit having
been speedily cleared of water, the work was continued till half-past
1. P. M., being three hours. The evening tides now falling late, and
becoming neap, no landing was made this night.

[Sidenote: Monday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers leave the Rock. Progress of the works.]

The boats landed the artificers on the rock at half-past 11 this
morning, but the tides being extremely languid, there was only about an
hour’s work got upon the site of the building, and about 2½ hours’
at the Railways. Finding that little more could be got done during the
present set of spring-tides, on returning to the vessel at 3 P. M., she
was got under way, and sailed for Arbroath, which she reached at 7 P.
M.; but, being too early in the tide for getting into the harbour, the
author landed with the boat, and felt not a little satisfied with the
progress and success of the work. The site of the building had been
excavated as low in some parts as it was necessary or proper to carry
it, and there was now a good prospect of having it completely prepared
in the course of the next spring-tides. About 100 feet of the eastern
branch of the Railway had also been laid, while the best of the season
was still to come. The business of the work-yard was going on with no
less vigour ashore. The greater quantity of the stones wanted from
Aberdeen for the courses in hand, had been brought to Arbroath, and
the supply was becoming both more regular and abundant from the quarry
of Mylnefield. The second course, which contained very weighty stones,
being 18 inches in thickness, was now nearly all laid down upon the
platform in the middle of the work-yard, where each stone was carefully
fitted and marked as it was to lie in the building, in the same manner
as had been done with the first course.

[Sidenote: The Artificers’ pay and premiums this month.]

It so happened that the artificers employed afloat, or, at the Bell
Rock, were upon this occasion ashore on the regular pay-day, which took
place on the first of every month. The seamen’s wages were paid once
a quarter, and their premiums at the end of the working season. Such
of the artificers as had been off at the Rock this month, had each
a considerable sum to receive for wages and premiums, say L. 6, the
stated wages being L. 1 for six days; and having no disbursement to
make for victuals, the situation of those afloat became enviable, and
the workmen who had not been at the Rock, now began to make application
for what they called their _turn afloat_. This change was not a little
gratifying, considering the hesitation and backwardness shewn last
season to this part of the service.

[Sidenote: 1808, July.]

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 5th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers embark for the Rock.]

At 11 o’clock P. M., the Sir Joseph Banks Tender set sail from
Arbroath for the Bell Rock, to commence the operations for the ensuing
spring tides, having on board 38 masons, 6 joiners, 3 smiths, and the
landing-master’s crew, consisting of 12 seamen, in all 59. The winds
being variable, the vessel only got a short way off the shore in the
course of the night, and did not reach her moorings till the next day
at noon.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 6th.]

[Sidenote: Commence operations for the ensuing Spring-tides.]

Landed on the Rock, with the three boats belonging to the Tender,
at 5 P. M., and began immediately to bale the water out of the
foundation-pit, with a number of buckets, while the pumps were also
kept in action with relays of artificers and seamen. The work commenced
upon the higher parts of the foundation, as the water left them, but it
was now pretty generally reduced to a level. The pumps were laid in a
diagonal position as represented in Plate XI.; four men wrought at the
cross handle and guided the pump-spear, to which a rope was attached,
and in this manner, about 20 men could be conveniently employed at
each pump, and it is quite astonishing in how short a time so great a
body of water could be drawn off. The water in the foundation-pit at
this time, measured about two feet in depth, on an area of 42 feet in
diameter; and yet it was drawn off in the course of about half an hour.
After this, the artificers commenced with their picks, and continued
at work for two hours and a half, some of the sailors being at the
same time busily employed in clearing the foundation of chips, and in
conveying the irons to and from the smiths on the beacon where they
were sharped. At 8 o’clock, the sea broke in upon us, and overflowed
the foundation pit, when the boats returned to the Tender.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 7th.]

[Sidenote: How employed.]

The landing-master’s bell rung this morning about 4 o’clock, and at 5
the boats landed the artificers, when the pumps and buckets were set
to work to clear the foundation-pit of water. The pumps, as formerly
noticed, were left upon the Rock, being fixed between four bars of
iron, batted or wedged into it, upon which plates were fitted with
forelocks, which kept them from shifting. It was common also to drive
a few wedges of iron between the pumps and these fixtures, for greater
security against their being lifted by the pressure of the water,
which, in spring tides, was from 12 to 14 feet in depth. At half-past
5, the foundation being cleared, the work commenced on the site of the
building. But from the moment of landing, the squad of joiners and
mill-wrights was at work upon the higher parts of the Rock, in laying
the railways, while the anvils of the smiths resounded on the Beacon,
and such columns of smoke ascended from the forges, that they were
often mistaken by strangers at a distance, for a ship on fire. After
continuing three hours at work, the foundation of the building was
again overflowed, and the boats returned to the ship at half-past 8
o’clock. The masons and pickmen had, at this period, a pretty long day
on board of the Tender, but the smiths and joiners were kept constantly
at work upon the Beacon; the stability and great conveniency of which
had now been so fully shewn, that no doubt remained as to the propriety
of fitting it up as a barrack. The workmen were accordingly employed,
during the period of high-water, in making preparations for this

[Sidenote: Foundation stone prepared.]

The foundation-pit now assumed the appearance of a great platform, and
the late tides had been so favourable, that it became apparent that the
first course, consisting of a few irregular and detached stones for
making up certain inequalities in the interior parts of the site of
the building, might be laid in the course of the present spring-tides.
Having been enabled to-day to get the dimensions of the foundation or
first stone accurately taken, a mould was made of its figure, when the
writer left the Rock, after the tide’s work of this morning, in a fast
rowing boat, for Arbroath; and upon landing, two men were immediately
set to work upon one of the blocks from Mylnefield quarry, which was
prepared in the course of the following day, as the stone-cutters
relieved each other, and worked both night and day, so that it was sent
off in one of the Stone-lighters without delay.

On returning to the Rock, the writer found that the artificers had been
able to land regularly, both at the morning and evening tides, and that
they had added eight hours to the working period. He was, however,
extremely sorry to find that he had missed the visit of his excellent
friend Mr Patrick Neill, who, in the zeal of his pursuits in botany and
natural history, had expressed a strong desire to examine the fuci and
animals upon the Bell Rock, and had taken the opportunity of a passage
with the Smeaton from Leith. But his engagements did not admit of his
remaining till the writer’s return; and he had left the rock in a boat
going to the Redhead, about seven miles east from Arbroath, where he
expected to overtake the writer, but instead of which, they unluckily
passed each other under night.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 9th.]

The weather still continued to be very agreeable, the wind being
moderate and chiefly from the S.W. At 6 A. M. the signal bell was
rung for embarking for the Rock. At 7 the artificers landed, and
began to clear the foundation-pit of water, and the work continued
from a quarter past 7 till half-past 11, having had three hours’ and
a quarter’s work, when the Rock was again overflowed, and the boats
returned to the Tender.

[Sidenote: Foundation stone landed at high-water.]

The site of the foundation-stone was very difficult to work, from its
depth in the Rock, but being now nearly prepared, it formed a very
agreeable kind of pastime, at high-water, for all hands to land it upon
the Rock. The landing-master’s crew and artificers accordingly entered
with great spirit into this operation. The stone was placed upon the
deck of the Hedderwick Praam-boat, which had just been brought from
Leith, and was decorated with colours for the occasion. Flags were also
displayed from the shipping in the offing, and upon the Beacon. Here
the writer took his station with the greater part of the artificers,
who supported themselves in every possible position while the boats
towed the praam from her moorings, and brought her immediately over
the site of the building where her grappling anchors were let go. The
stone was then lifted off the deck by a tackle hooked into a Lewis-bat,
inserted into it; when it was gently lowered into the water, and
grounded on the site of the building, amidst the cheering acclamations
of about sixty persons. The landing of this stone at high-water became
necessary, from there being still a want of a sufficient length of
railway for conveying it along the Rock at low-water to the site of
the building. But this method was rarely resorted to, as it was apt
to skirt or break the edges of the stones; and as a continuation of
good weather was not to be calculated upon, it was observed as a rule
never to land more stones in any one tide than could be built, because
the force of the sea was more than sufficient to remove the heaviest
stones, as we have seen in the case of the first six blocks of granite
which were landed by way of experiment, and also of the cast-iron
mushroom anchor, which was drifted about the Rock, although it weighed
upwards of a ton.

The boats landed at half-past 7 this evening, and the artificers
immediately began to bale and pump the water from the foundation-pit,
and the work was afterwards continued by torch-light till a
quarter-past 11, having had three hours’ and a quarter’s work this tide.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 10th.]

[Sidenote: Foundation-stone laid with masonic ceremony.]

The wind to-day was variable, with gentle breezes varying from S.E. to
N.E.; and every thing being in a state of preparation for laying the
foundation-stone, which had yesterday been landed with so much eclat,
the sailors again displayed their flags at all points, and a cheerful
happiness was discernible in every countenance. At half-past 8 the
boats landed the artificers, and the weather being remarkably fine, as
many of the crews of the Floating-light, the Tender and the Smeaton, as
could be spared from their respective ships, landed this morning, to
witness the long-wished-for ceremony of laying the first stone of the
Light-house. We had, besides, an acquisition to our numbers, in a party
consisting of about sixteen persons from Dundee, who came to the Rock,
just as preparations were making for laying the stone.

Whether we consider this building as an erection of great difficulty,
or, in a nautical point of view, as adding much to the comfort and
protection of the mariner, and safety of property, upon a range of
coast extending almost to the whole eastern shores of Great Britain,
its importance is evident. If it be proper, therefore, on any occasion,
to attach importance to the act of laying the first stone of a public
building, that of the Bell Rock Light-house cannot be said to yield
to any in point of celebrity, either for the peculiarity of its
situation, or the importance of its object. Under these considerations
it is obvious, that but for the perilous and uncertain nature of any
arrangement which could have been made for this ceremony, instead of
its having been performed only in the presence of those immediately
connected with the work, and of a few accidental spectators from
the neighbouring shore, counting in all about eighty persons, many
thousands would have attended upon an occasion which must have called
forth the first dignitaries of the country, in conferring the highest
honours of masonry. The writer may, however, confidently affirm, that,
situate as the work was, nothing could add to the satisfaction felt by
all present, in having now got matters in so advanced a state, as to be
able to commence the building operations.

At 11 o’clock, the foundation stone was laid to hand. It was of a
square form, containing about 20 cubic feet, and had the figures or
date of 1808 simply cut upon it with a chisel, a derrick or spar of
timber having been erected at the edge of the hole and guyed with
ropes. The stone was then hooked to the tackle and lowered into its
place, when the writer, attended by his assistants Mr Peter Logan, Mr
Francis Watt, and Mr James Wilson, applied the square, the level, and
the mallet, and pronounced the following benediction: “May the Great
Architect of the Universe complete and bless this building,” on which
three hearty cheers were given, and success to the future operations
was drunk with the greatest enthusiasm.

[Sidenote: Prayers read after the tide’s work.]

By 12 o’clock noon, the tide had overflowed the site of the building,
and the boats left the Rock after a tide’s work of three hours and a
half. On returning to the ship, prayers were read, when every heart
perhaps felt more than ordinary thankfulness. The artificers were again
landed in the evening at half-past 8, and continued at work, with
torch-light, till a quarter past 12, having been three hours and three
quarters’ at work, or seven hours in all to-day.

[Sidenote: Monday, 11th.]

The boats landed at 9 o’clock this morning, and after three hours’ and
a quarter’s work, they left the Rock at a quarter past 1 P. M. The
artificers landed again in the evening, and work with torch-light from
10 to a quarter past 12, having had two hours’ and a quarter’s work.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 12th.]

After clearing the foundation-pit of water, by means of the two pumps
and a number of buckets, the work commenced at a quarter past 10, and
left off at half-past 12 noon, having had two hours’ and a quarter’s
work. In the evening, the artificers again landed at 9, but it was not
till a quarter past 11 that the water was cleared out, and it began to
overflow the site of the building again at midnight, so that only three
quarters of an hour’s work was got upon the Rock with the evening tide.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 13th.]

Land at a quarter before 10 A. M., and begin to work at half-past 10,
and left off at a quarter from 1 P. M., having had two hours’ and a
half. In the evening at 12 o’clock, the foundation-pit was cleared of
water; but at a quarter past 12, the sea broke into it again, so that
no work was done, owing to the state of the tide.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: Tender leaves the Rock.]

Land to-day at half-past 12 noon, and had one hour’s work. But the
tides being now in the state of neap, the Tender sailed with the
artificers and landing-master’s crew to Arbroath, to wait the return
of spring-tides. The work now put on a very promising appearance.
The first stone had been laid, and the levelling of the site of the
building was in such a state, as to afford every prospect of being able
to commence the building of the first entire course, after a few good
tides. The _reach_ of the Railways from the site of the building, to
the eastern landing-place, was also in a state of great forwardness,
and the other parts of the apparatus being now in readiness, there was
every prospect of making rapid progress after the foundation course was
laid, and building operations were fairly begun.

[Sidenote: Price of granite advanced.]

In the work-yard, however, things had not so prosperous an appearance,
as a number of blocks of granite were still wanting to complete the
first four courses of the building; and such was the urgency of
the demand, lest the work should be stopped in its progress, that
the writer authorised Mr Gildowie of Aberdeen to advance the price
of stone, according to circumstances, as an additional stimulus to
the exertions of the quarriers. From this state of matters, it was
now pretty obvious, that not more than two or three courses of the
light-house could be built this season.

[Sidenote: Friday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Artificers sail for the Rock.]

To-day, at 1 o’clock P. M., the Tender left Arbroath for the Bell Rock,
having on board 16 masons, 5 mill-wrights and joiners, 2 black-smiths,
and 13 seamen, in all 35 persons, including the officers of the ship.
The wind was at E. N. E., with light breezes and fine weather; but as
it fell calm, the boats left the Tender at 5 P. M. with the artificers,
while yet about 5 or 6 miles from the rock: but owing to the strength
of the ebb-tide, it was found impossible to reach it in time for
the tide, and they returned to the vessel at 9 P. M. without having
effected a landing.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 23d.]

At half-past 5 A. M., the Tender was made fast to the south-west buoy,
when the artificers landed. The two pumps were immediately set to work,
and at half-past 7 the work commenced, and continued till a quarter
past 9, when the site of the building was again overflowed, and the
boats left the Rock after an hour and three-quarters’ work. In the
evening the work commenced at 7, and left off at half-past 9, after two
hours’ and a half’s work.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: A raft of timber goes adrift.]

The wind was at S.S.E., with strong gales, accompanied with a heavy
breach of sea, so that the boats could not land, and there was
consequently no work done to-day. The ship had also such a rolling
motion, that the people could not be collected on deck, as usual,
for reading prayers. The wind was at east, accompanied with a pretty
heavy swell of sea to-day, so that it was not without considerable
difficulty that the boats landed, when two hours’ and a quarter’s work
were got, having been on the Rock from three quarters past 7 till 10
A. M. But in this state of the weather a landing was not attempted in
the evening. In the course of this night, a raft of six Norway logs,
intended for laying the railways over certain gullies or inequalities
of the rock, drifted from one of the floating buoys to which it had
been made fast. It was afterwards picked up by some fishermen in the
Frith of Forth, near Anstruther, who were paid L. 2 for their trouble,
in name of salvage and expences.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 25th.]

The weather was more settled to-day, and the sea had become much
smoother. At a quarter past 8 A. M. the work commenced, and left off
again at half-past 11, after an excellent tide’s work of three hours
and a quarter. The masons were chiefly employed at the foundation
of the building,--the millwrights and joiners at the railways,--the
blacksmiths were kept busy at both operations,--while the
landing-master’s crew took part in the whole.

The boats landed again in the evening at 8 P. M., and the foundation
having been cleared, the artificers began to the low-water works
at a quarter past 9, and continued till 11. After an hour and
three-quarters’ work they left the rock, but the joiners and
blacksmiths had been employed on the beacon since morning.

[Sidenote: State of things, at night, upon extinguishing the torches.]

The wind being at S.E. this evening, we had a pretty heavy swell of sea
upon the rock, and some difficulty attended our getting off in safety,
as the boats got a-ground in the creek, and were in danger of being
upset. Upon extinguishing the torch-lights, about twelve in number, the
darkness of the night seemed quite horrible; the water being also much
charged with the phosphorescent appearance which is familiar to every
one on ship-board, the waves, as they dashed upon the rock, were in
some degree like so much liquid flame. The scene, upon the whole, was
truly awful.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 26th.]

[Sidenote: The first, or foundation course is finished to-day.]

The work on the rock began this morning at 9 o’clock, and left off
at a quarter past 12 noon, when the tide overflowed the site of the
building. The masons then went on board of the Tender, but the smiths
and joiners, as usual, continued their operations on the beacon. The
weather being moderate, the boats landed again in the evening, at a
quarter past 10, and left off at midnight, having had altogether four
hours’ and three quarters’ of low-water work to-day, when the last of
the eighteen detached pieces of stone, forming the Foundation-course,
were laid. The several holes or cavities in it, varying in depth from
six to eighteen inches, had now been built up with stones, exactly cut
and fitted to their respective places, as represented in Plate XV.; and
which brought the whole surface to a uniform level.

[Sidenote: The force of habit exemplified in landing at night on the
Bell Rock.]

In leaving the Rock this evening, every thing, after the torches were
extinguished, had the same dismal appearance as last night, but so
perfectly acquainted were the landing-master and his crew with the
position of things at the Rock, that comparatively little inconveniency
was experienced on these occasions, when the weather was moderate:
such is the effect of habit, even in the most unpleasant situations.
If, for example, it had been proposed to a person accustomed to a
city life, at once to take up his quarters off a sunken reef, and
land upon it in boats at all hours of the night, the proposition must
have appeared quite impracticable and extravagant; but this practice
coming progressively upon the artificers, it was ultimately undertaken
with the greatest alacrity. Notwithstanding this, however, it must
be acknowledged, that it was not till after much labour and peril,
and many an anxious hour, that the writer is enabled to state, that
the site of the Bell Rock Light-house is fully prepared for the First
entire course of the building.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 28th.]

[Sidenote: First cargo of an entire course landed.]

The sloop Smeaton had accordingly loaded the first cargo of cut stone
at Arbroath for the Light-house, consisting of twenty blocks of the
First entire course, and had last night come to her moorings; and
this morning the praam-boats were employed in landing her cargo upon
the Rock. From the want of a complete line of Railway from any of
the landing-places to the site of the building, this operation could
only be effected at high-water, when the stones were let down, one
after another, upon the unincumbered area of the foundation of the
Light-house, by means of a slip-rope passed through the Lewis-bat of
each stone. This, as before noticed, was by no means a very desirable
mode of landing the materials, and was indeed, one that could rarely be
resorted to, except in the finest weather. The artificers having landed
at 9 A. M., the foundation was cleared of water by 10, when the masons
made preparations for commencing the building operations. Having had
two hours’ and three quarters’ work, they left the Rock, after laying
the blocks of stone which had been landed, in a compact and regular
manner upon the site of the building.

[Sidenote: Friday, 29th.]

The wind was at east to-day, with a gentle breeze. At 10 A. M. the
workmen landed, but the tides becoming neap, it was two hours and a
half before the foundation could be cleared of water, and at a quarter
from 2 P. M. it was again overflowed, having only had an hour and a
quarter’s work with the morning tide, when the twelve remaining blocks
of the Smeaton’s cargo were laid to hand, and ready for being built
with mortar. In the present state of the tides, it was not judged
necessary to land this evening.

[Sidenote: The Smeaton makes a second trip for a cargo in 20 hours.]

The Smeaton having been unloaded yesterday forenoon, she was again
dispatched to Arbroath for another cargo of the First course, which she
got on board that same night by 12 o’clock, and had returned to her
moorings at the Bell Rock this morning; Captain Pool, with his usual
activity, having only been absent from the Rock about twenty hours.
In the mean time, the writer visited the operations of the work-yard,
to ascertain more fully what prospect there was of having a supply of
prepared stones for continuing the works of this season, to the extent
of three or four courses of the Light-house. Some arrangement also was
necessary for the removal of Cranes and other articles of machinery for
the use of the building operations.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: Tender sails for Arbroath.]

The Tender left her moorings at the Rock this morning for Arbroath,
with such of the artificers as could be spared. Those left shifted
on board of the Smeaton, and were to be employed at the Beacon, and
in laying the Railways, now much wanted, for transporting the stones
along the Rock. They also attended to the arrangement of the materials
landed upon the site of the building, where, from the lowness of its
situation, they lay in safety. In the work-yard considerable progress
had now been made with the Second entire course of the building, and
after much trouble, the necessary blocks of granite had at length come
to hand, for completing it, but still many stones were wanting for the
higher ones.

[Sidenote: 1808, August.]

[Sidenote: August, Wednesday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: Returns to the Rock.]

The Tender sailed this afternoon from Arbroath, having on board two of
the cranes already alluded to, as in preparation for the work, upon a
new construction, as will be seen in Plate XIV. These were intended
to be erected on the site of the building, for laying the stones in a
more perfect and expeditious manner than had hitherto been followed
in operations of this kind. She carried also forty-seven persons,
including artificers and seamen; but as the winds were light, little
progress was made during the afternoon, for, as yet, the utility of the
Steam-boat, in cases of this kind, had not been developed.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 4th.]

[Sidenote: Four stones laid.]

At 4 o’clock this morning the Tender reached her moorings, and was made
fast to the south-west buoy, as laid down upon Plate V. At 5 o’clock,
32 artificers and 11 seamen landed upon the Rock, from three boats.
The landing-master’s crew transported one of the cranes from on board
of the Tender, on one of the praams, and landed it at high-water upon
the Rock. Having again landed in the evening, the foundation-pit was
cleared of water by 6 o’clock, when the Crane was set up and properly
guyed with ropes. The center-stone and three others were then laid with
mortar, and trenailed to the Rock. After two hours’ work, the site of
the building was again overflowed, and at 8 o’clock the artificers
returned on board of the Tender.

[Sidenote: Advantages of the new cranes over sheer-poles.]

As the stones were all dove-tailed into one another, they required
to be laid perpendicularly into their respective places, which was
also essential to preserving a proper bed of mortar under them. This
could only be effected in a speedy and dextrous manner by means of a
crane; but it will further be seen, from the angular figure of the
stones, that this could not be effected by one of these machines of
the ordinary construction, as has formerly been noticed. It had been
recommended to the writer to use the common sheer-poles, with which
the Edystone Light-house was built, which, notwithstanding all the
improvements in machinery, were still chiefly in use for laying heavy
stones; but sheer-poles, besides being difficult to preserve on a
sunken rock, could neither have laid the materials so well, nor with
a tenth part of the expedition, as the crane with the moveable beam
delineated in Plate XIV.

[Sidenote: Mr Smeaton’s plan of Trenails and Wedges followed.]

Stones laid at the depth of about 14 feet under high-water mark,
required more than merely laying them on their respective beds, and
trusting to their own gravity. For this purpose nothing seemed to be
so well adapted as the oaken trenails which Mr Smeaton used in the
erection of the Edystone Light-house. Two jumper-holes, of an inch and
a half in diameter, had accordingly been drilled through each stone,
which were continued or perforated to the depth of six inches into the
rock or course immediately below, which became the most tedious part of
the building operation. When the oaken trenail was inserted into the
hole, it had a saw-draught across the lower end, into which a small
wedge was inserted: and when driven home, it became quite firm. The
trenail was then cut flush with the upper bed of the stone, and split
with a chisel, when another wooden wedge was inserted and driven into
the upper end of the trenail, as represented in diagram 10. of Plate
X. Nor was this all, for, in following up Mr Smeaton’s principle, two
pairs of oaken wedges, as represented in Plate X., Fig. 11. were also
driven gently into the perpendicular joints, prior to grouting them
with mortar. The whole stones of a course had thus to be laid with
great nicety, corresponding to a number of checks and marks, previously
arranged in the work-yard, that the wedges might fit without trouble at
the Rock, and preserve the respective positions of the superincumbent
courses, and make band throughout the whole fabric.

[Sidenote: Friday, 5th.]

[Sidenote: 16 Stones laid.]

The boats landed the artificers this morning at half-past 5 o’clock,
and the foundation-pit being cleared of water, seven stones were laid
and secured with trenails by 8 o’clock. The artificers are again landed
at 6 P. M. and in the course of two hours nine additional stones were

[Sidenote: Saturday, 6th, till Wednesday, 10th.]

[Sidenote: 92 Stones laid.]

From Saturday the 6th till Wednesday the 10th inclusive, the weather
and tides were favourable, which afforded an opportunity of landing
both with the morning and evening tides, and in the course of these
five days twenty-six hours’ work were obtained, and ninety-two stones
were laid. The landing-master’s crew also continued their operations in
delivering the Smeaton, and laying her cargoes on the Rock.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: 11 Stones laid.]

The boats landed the artificers to-day at 9 A. M., and in about three
quarters of an hour the site of the building was cleared of water, when
eleven stones were laid in the course of an hour and three quarters.
There being a considerable swell in the sea to-day from south-east, the
praams could not land any materials upon the Rock at high-water, and
nothing could be done in this way at low-water, as the Railways were
not yet in a working condition.

[Sidenote: A party of Gentlemen narrowly escape being drowned.]

During the morning-tide, while the work was in progress, a very serious
accident was like to have happened to a party of gentlemen from Leith,
who came to see the operations at the Rock. They attempted to land in a
very small boat belonging to their yacht; but, as a considerable swell
of sea set round it in all directions, after several attempts, they
found this to be impracticable. The writer then hailed the gentlemen,
and advised them to return, and remain on board of their vessel,
until the state of the tide would enable him to send a proper boat
for them. In the mean time, however, a boat from the Floating-light,
pretty deeply laden, with lime, cement and sand, approached, when the
strangers, with a view to avoid giving trouble, took their passage
in her to the Rock. The accession of three passengers to a boat,
already in a lumbered state, put her completely out of trim, and, as
it unluckily happened, the man who steered her was not in the habit
of attending the Rock, and was not sufficiently aware of the run of
the sea at the entrance of the eastern creek. Instead, therefore, of
keeping close to the small rock called “John Gray,” the situation of
which will be seen in Plate VI., he gave it a _wide birth_, as the
sailors term it; a heavy sea having struck the boat, drove her to
leeward, and the oars getting entangled among the rocks and sea-weed,
she became unmanageable, and was thrown on a ledge by another heavy
swell, which instantly leaving her, she _kanted_ seaward upon her
gunwale, when the people, and part of the cargo, were thrown into
the sea. Before she righted, or any assistance could be rendered by
those on the Rock, another sea came which filled her and scattered
the passengers, eight in number, in all directions. Some clung to the
boat, others to the sea-weed, and two or three having got hold of
oars and loose thwarts, which floated about, were carried out of the
creek, to a considerable distance from the spot where the accident
happened. By the very prompt and active assistance of Mr James Wilson,
the landing-master, and his crew, the whole were, however, speedily
got out of the water, excepting a Mr Strachan, one of the strangers,
who had clung to the sea-weed upon a small insulated rock, bearing his
name, in Plate VI., to which it was impossible at this time of tide to
approach, without the assistance of a boat. Mr Wilson, with a dexterity
peculiar to himself, made towards this spot, where Mr Strachan, with
great resolution and perseverance, still kept his hold, although every
returning sea laid him completely under water, and even hid him from
the view of the spectators on the Rock. In this situation he must have
remained for ten or twelve minutes. When the boat reached the insulated
rock, the most difficult part was still to perform, as it required the
greatest nicety of management to guide her in a rolling sea, so as to
prevent her from being carried forcibly against Mr Strachan, who was
in danger of being struck with the stem of the boat, to which he lay
completely exposed. Notwithstanding the breach of the sea, however,
and the narrowness of the passage, the boat was conducted at the
proper moment close to Mr Strachan, without either touching him or the
insulated rock to which he clung, till he was lifted into the boat. Mr
Strachan was of course much exhausted, from having been so completely
overrun by the sea, and having had but a very short space for breathing
between the returning waves.

The gentlemen thus extricated in safety from the most imminent peril,
were immediately removed on board of their own vessel, no doubt very
thankful for the narrow escape they had made, and with grateful
recollections of the exertions made by Captain Wilson and his crew.
With regard to the people belonging to the Light-house service, none of
them were materially injured beyond the disagreeable ducking which they
experienced; but the boat was almost completely wrecked: her cargo was
also injured, and partly lost.

[Sidenote: Friday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: First entire course completed.]

The artificers landed this morning at half-past 10, and after an hour
and a half’s work, eight stones were laid, which completed the First
entire course of the building, consisting of 123 blocks, the last of
which was laid with three hearty cheers. Immediately after this tide
the Tender left the Rock for Arbroath, with all hands on board; and
having a fine breeze at south, she got into the harbour at half-past 6
P. M., to wait the return of the spring-tides.

[Sidenote: Artificers are welcomed into Arbroath Harbour.]

Those on board felt not a little happy, when the ship, which, on her
passage, had been decorated with colours, intimating that the First
entire course was laid, was received with cheering from the workmen
ashore, and the inhabitants of Arbroath. The service of the Bell Rock
now became every trip more desirable with the artificers, who, having
been enabled to work both during the morning and evening tides, with
the exception of the evening of the 11th, the premiums over and above
their stated wages became more and more an object, while the experience
acquired in landing 123 blocks of stone, had fully established the
practicability of the whole operation.

[Sidenote: One of the Artificers disabled. He receives an annuity.]

On the writer’s arrival at the work-yard this evening, he learned, with
much regret, that an unfortunate accident had happened to one of the
masons, of the name of Hugh Rose, while employed in raising a block of
stone, of between two and three tons weight, with the carpenter’s jack,
represented in Plate X. The jack had not been set with sufficient care,
and slipped from under the stone, which instantly fell upon his knees.
For a considerable time Rose was thus kept in a sitting posture, with
a great part of the weight of this large stone resting upon his legs,
till relieved by the other workmen who came to his assistance, and
again applied the jack to raise the stone. His legs were, however,
sprained in a very painful and distressing manner, which kept him from
work for upwards of a twelvemonth. He was one of the best workmen
in the Yard, and a man of great bodily strength; but became so much
disabled by this accident, that the Light-house Board was afterwards
pleased to settle an annuity of L. 20 _per annum_ upon him.

[Sidenote: Friday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: Granite Stones much wanted.]

The work at this moment had much the appearance as if it would be
retarded, as several blocks of stone were still wanted from the
quarries at Aberdeen, to complete the Third entire course, the Second
being now ready to be removed from the work-yard to the Rock. This
course was 18 inches in thickness, the granite stones of which measured
from 4 to 7 feet in length, varying in breadth from 3 feet to 4 feet 6
inches. Stones of these dimensions could not be landed with safety at
high-water, but the railways on the Rock were nearly completed from the
eastern landing-place to the site of the building, so that every thing
was now in readiness for commencing the landing of the materials with

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: 10 Stones laid.]

Having made all the necessary arrangements for making dispatch with
the Third course, the writer sailed at mid-day on the 24th, with the
Tender, for the Bell Rock, having on board forty-three persons in all,
and the wind being favourable, the vessel was made fast to her buoy
at the Rock at 7 P. M. The Smeaton also came to her moorings with a
cargo of the Second course, when the landing-master’s crew brought
the praam-boat along-side, and was loaded with 10 stones, which were
landed, and laid this evening after three hours’ work.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 27th.]

[Sidenote: 136 Stones laid in 7 tides.]

The weather having been extremely favourable, regular tides’ work
were got both morning and evening, so that the Second entire course,
containing 136 stones in number, and 152 tons weight, was laid in the
course of seven tides; the sloop Smeaton having been kept constantly
plying between the Bell Rock and Arbroath, where, on her arrival, she
was immediately loaded, whether by night or day. From the favourable
state of the weather, the complete and effective condition of the
landing apparatus, and the dexterity of the landing-master’s crew, a
cargo of stones was discharged from the vessel, and landed on the Rock
in as short a time as the stones could be built, and the holes bored
into the course below, and trenails fixed into them. To facilitate the
lifting of the stones off the waggons, after they were brought on the
railways to the site of the building, and for laying them at once on
every part of its area, though measuring 42 feet in diameter, a second
crane was erected on the First entire course, as represented in Plate
IX., which thus admitted of the Second course being built with great
facility, without once requiring to shift the cranes horizontally;
as the beams, when extended in opposite directions, reached from the
centre to the extremity of the course.

[Sidenote: 1808, September.]

[Sidenote: Second course completed.]

On completing the laying of the Second entire course, the Light-house
began to assume the appearance and form of a building; for, although
still under a part of the excavated rock, it was, nevertheless, 4
feet above the level of the lower bed of the foundation-stone,--a
consideration which was highly gratifying to those immediately
connected with the work. Having successfully completed this course, the
writer sailed with the Smeaton for Arbroath, accompanied by such of the
artificers as had been employed in building, and leaving the Tender
at the Rock, with the mill-wrights, joiners, smiths, and masons, who
worked at the Railways, and in preparing the upper part of the Beacon
as a barrack. After landing at Arbroath, the Smeaton was immediately
dispatched for Aberdeen, in quest of a few blocks of granite, still
much wanted for the courses in hand.

[Sidenote: Friday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers go off to the Rock. 10 Stones laid.]

Having now got the Third entire course nearly ready for shipping,
the Tender returned to Arbroath for the artificers, and a supply of
water and provisions; and sailed again this morning at two o’clock
for the Bell Rock, having forty persons on board. At 9 she was made
fast to the S.W. buoy, when the boats were hoisted out and landed the
artificers, who remained till 12 noon. These two hours were occupied
in adjusting the cranes, and making preparations for commencing the
building operations. A landing is again made in the evening at 9, and
at midnight the artificers returned on board of the Tender, having been
three hours on the Rock, when ten stones of the Third course were laid
and trenailed to the course below.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 10th.]

[Sidenote: Pumping of Water discontinued.]

Land at 9 A. M., and by a quarter past 12 noon, 23 stones had been
laid. The works being now somewhat elevated by the lower courses, we
got quit of the very serious inconvenience of pumping water to clear
the foundation-pit. This gave much facility to the operations, and was
noticed with expressions of as much happiness by the artificers as the
seamen had shewn when relieved of the continual trouble of carrying
the smiths’ bellows off the Rock, prior to the erection of the Beacon.

[Sidenote: One of the Artificers loses a finger.]

While the workmen were laying the closing or last stone of the former
course, John Bonnyman, one of the most active and expert of the
masons, met with an unlucky accident in the following manner. The
moveable beam of the building-crane having been lowered to a horizontal
position, for the purpose of laying the stone at the circumference
of the course, Bonnyman, who was directing it into its birth with
a small pince in his right hand, had inadvertently rested his left
hand on the beam, near the sheave or pulley, at its extremity, when
one of the links unfortunately caught his hand, and before the crane
could be stopped, the chain had passed over the middle joint of the
fore-finger, and cut it so nearly off, that he applied to the writer,
who was standing by, to relieve him of the almost detached part. But
having no great inclination for the performance of operations of this
kind, the severed parts were set together and bandaged in as careful
a manner as circumstances would admit, when the patient was sent in a
fast-rowing boat to Arbroath for medical aid. It was nevertheless soon
afterwards found necessary to amputate the finger, and Bonnyman became
a successful candidate for a light-keeper’s birth.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: Progress of the works stopped for want of granite.]

Having landed this morning at 10, the work was continued during four
hours, when 14 stones were laid; but its regular progress had now to
be stopped for a time, owing to the want of stones from the work-yard,
where some blocks of granite were waited for from the quarries. In the
afternoon the Smeaton arrived with a few hearting or interior stones of
the course in hand; but the wind having been for some days past in the
N.E., accompanied with a considerable swell of sea, it was not found
practicable to make a landing, and the praam-boat, after having been
loaded, was made fast to her moorings: consequently no landing was made
on the Rock with the night tide.

[Sidenote: Monday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: Building level with the higher parts of the Rock.]

The wind being still at N.E., the swell was so great that the boats
landed with much difficulty on the Rock this morning at half-past 11
o’clock, but could only remain for an hour and a half, owing to the
heavy sea which ran upon it. This tide was employed in completing the
boring of the trenail-holes, and in securing the stones which had been
laid. The cranes were also raised from the second to the third course,
which being 18 inches in thickness, the artificers who worked them now
stood nearly on a level with the highest parts of the Rock.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 13th.]

[Sidenote: Experience great difficulty in landing.]

The wind being still at N.E., accompanied with a heavy breach on the
Rock, no attempt would have been made to land to-day, had not the
writer felt a more than ordinary desire to examine the state of the
work, from the manner in which the sea broke upon the building. In
accomplishing this about noon, the boats were frequently put back, but
were at length successful, when it was found that the force of the sea
had raised two of the stones exposed to its immediate wash, which, in
the unfinished state of the course, formed an abrupt face to the waves.
These two stones were lifted perpendicularly off their beds, the one
to the height of 6, the other of 10 inches; but they were fortunately
still held by the trenails, and supported as if on stilts. Had this
not been timeously observed, the probability is, that the operation of
another tide might have swept them into deep water, which would have
been attended with much additional hazard, by delaying the work in its
present state, at so advanced a period of the season.

[Sidenote: Two Stones loosened but are again secured. The vessels slip
their moorings.]

The trenails of these stones having been drawn or bored out, the
stones were laid a second time, when every precaution was taken to
secure the mortar, by stuffing bagging-cloth round the joints, and
loading them with bars of iron. The guy-ropes of the cranes were also
tightened, and every thing put in as complete a state of security as
circumstances would admit. At 1 P. M. the boats again returned to the
Tender, which now rode so heavily at her moorings that it was found
necessary to get her under way, when she sailed for Arbroath with the
artificers. The Smeaton also slipped her moorings; but instructions
were previously given to Mr Pool, to keep as close as possible to
the loaded praam-boat, still riding at her moorings, that, in the
event of her breaking adrift, he might be at hand to take her in tow.
In the evening, however, the weather moderated considerably, and,
after landing the masons at Arbroath, to remain till the return of
spring-tides, the Tender returned to her station at the Rock, with the
workmen employed at the Beacon-house and Railways.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: 10 Stones are laid. The praam-boats ride out the gale.]

The Light-house Yacht having to-day returned from the Northern
Light-houses, she transported the builders from Arbroath to the
Rock, and supplied the Floating-light and Tender with provisions and
necessaries. By this means, the latter vessel was enabled to remain
at her moorings during the present neap-tides, by which the operations
on the higher parts of the Beacon made great progress. The writer also
embarked this morning in the Light-house Yacht, and having hailed the
Floating-light at noon, found that she had rode out the late gales
with great ease. At 3 o’clock P. M. the Yacht was made fast to a set
of moorings which had been laid down for her early in the season; and
at 5, thirty artificers landed, when 10 stones were laid in two hours
and a quarter. Notwithstanding the heavy seas which had run upon the
Rock since the completion of the Second course, every thing was found
in good order. The stones of the course in hand were all in their
respective places, and the joints were full of mortar. The cranes
also stood quite firm, with their guys and tackling. It was no less
satisfactory to find that the loaded praam rode at her moorings in
perfect safety, without having apparently shipped any sea during the

[Sidenote: Sunday, 18th.]

[Sidenote: 31 Stones laid in 6¼ hours.]

The artificers landed this morning at 5 o’clock, and continued at work
till a quarter past 8. The railways being now in a pretty complete
state, and a further supply of stones having been brought to the Rock,
the landing-master got 21 blocks conveyed from the eastern wharf to the
building. In the same manner, with the evening tide, 10 stones were
landed, and the work continued from half-past 5 to half-past 8, having
had six hours’ and a quarter’s work to-day, during which no fewer than
31 stones were laid.

[Sidenote: Monday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: 12 Stones are laid. The western track of Railway much

The artificers landed this morning, and continued at work for three
hours, when 7 stones were laid. The wind being at S.E. there was a very
heavy swell of sea in the eastern creek; and not having as yet been
able to lay the Railway-track to the western creek, the stones were
obliged to be landed on the eastern side of the Rock, which was often
attended with great disadvantage to the work. For it was only in the
very finest weather that materials could be dropped or lowered upon the
Rock at high-water; an operation which was further attended with great
inconveniency, from the sparse manner in which it was found necessary
to drop them from the praam, to prevent their being injured. The fear
also of a storm overtaking the work while the stones were in this
situation, was none of the least sources of uneasiness which attended
this practice: for, though the sea might not carry them entirely
off the Rock, they might nevertheless be so damaged, as to render
them unfit for the work, and the loss of a single stone could not be
replaced without returning to the work-yard, and having recourse to the
mould from which it was cut.

[Sidenote: One of the beams cannot be got out of the eastern creek.]

As the landing-master’s crew were in the act of towing one of the
praam-boats into the eastern creek this morning, an unlucky sea struck
her, and carried her upon the same ledge of the Rock, which, on the
11th of last month, had almost proved fatal to the Floating-light’s
boat. By the active exertions of the crew, however, the praam on the
present occasion was got off without sustaining much damage, her bottom
being only slightly rubbed; and the cargo, consisting of 7 blocks of
stone, with cement, &c. was landed in safety. The boats returned to
the Rock at 6 P. M., and left it again at 9, after having had three
hours’ work, and laid 5 stones, being all the materials that could be
got this tide, owing to the rough state of the weather; for it was not
till after three successive attempts had been made, that Mr Wilson
succeeded in getting the praam into the creek this evening, the wind
being at S.E., and still continuing to blow fresh with a heavy swell
of sea, insomuch, that it was found impracticable to get her out again
after unloading; and she, therefore, remained till the tide had flowed
sufficiently to float her over the lower parts of the Rock to the

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: 15 Stones are laid. The weather continues to be very

The artificers landed this morning at 6 o’clock, and left the Rock
again at a quarter past 10, having had four hours’ and a quarter’s
work, when seven stones were laid. In the evening, the artificers
landed at 6, and continued at work till 10, having had a tide of four
hours, in which time eight stones were laid. Owing to the surf of
sea upon the Rock to-day, it was with the utmost difficulty that the
heavy blocks could either be got out of the Smeaton into the praams,
or conveyed in safety to the Rock. It was only by the experience now
acquired, and the activity of the landing-master’s crew, that any thing
was done to the building during the whole of these spring-tides. Indeed
the Smeaton was forced to leave her moorings, and return to Arbroath,
before the whole of her last cargo could be delivered. In this state of
the weather, the workmen could not be regularly employed in building;
but there was so much to do with each course, in boring trenail holes,
and laying railways during the time of low-water, that the artificers
were always fully employed, when it was possible to land. During the
period of high-water, the mill-wrights and joiners were occupied in
framing the upper part of the Beacon-house.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Engineer’s clerk most active in dispatching the shipping.]

To-day the wind was at S.W., blowing a fresh gale, and it was not
expected that the Smeaton could have possibly returned from Arbroath,
with the remaining stones of the course in hand, consisting of 17
blocks, with which, from the advanced period of the season, and the
boisterous state of the weather, it was proposed to terminate the
building for this year. The Smeaton, however, got to Arbroath last
night, at a late hour; and Mr Lachlan Kennedy, Engineer’s clerk,--whose
department it was to attend to the dispatch of the vessels,--with
that promptitude and zeal in the service which uniformly marked all
his transactions, called the artificers in the work-yard barrack at
midnight, when they commenced, with torch-light, to cart the stones to
the quay, and had loaded the Smeaton, by half-past 2 A. M., so that she
saved tide out of the harbour, and at half-past 6 got to her moorings
at the Rock.

[Sidenote: The unfortunate loss of James Scott, one of the seamen.]

Mr Thomas Macurich, mate of the Smeaton, and James Scott, one of the
crew, a young man about 18 years of age, immediately went into their
boat to make fast a hawser to the ring in the top of the floating-buoy
of the moorings, and were forthwith to proceed to land their cargo, so
much wanted at the Rock. The tides at this period were very strong,
and the mooring-chain, when sweeping the ground, had caught hold of
a rock or piece of wreck, by which the chain was so shortened that
when the tide flowed, the buoy got almost under water, and little more
than the ring appeared at the surface. When Macurich and Scott were in
the act of making the hawser fast to the ring, the chain got suddenly
disentangled at the bottom, and this large buoy, measuring about 7 feet
in height, and 3 feet in diameter at the middle, tapering to both ends,
being what seamen term a _Nun-buoy_, vaulted or sprung up with such
force, that it upset the boat, which instantly filled with water. Mr
Macurich, with much exertion, succeeded in getting hold of the boat’s
gunwale, still above the surface of the water, and by this means was
saved; but the young man Scott was unfortunately drowned. He had, in
all probability, been struck about the head by the ring of the buoy,
for although surrounded with the oars and the thwarts of the boat which
floated near him; yet he seemed entirely to want the power of availing
himself of such assistance, and appeared to be quite insensible, while
Pool, the master of the Smeaton, called loudly to him: and, before
assistance could be got from the Tender, he was carried away by the
strength of the current, and disappeared! A signal of distress was
immediately hoisted, when one of the boats of the landing-master’s
crew instantly attended to Macurich’s safety, and picked him up in a
very exhausted state, but he happily soon recovered.

[Sidenote: His mother gets a small annuity.]

The young man Scott was a great favourite in the service, having had
something uncommonly mild and complaisant in his manner; and his loss
was therefore universally regretted. The circumstances of his case were
also peculiarly distressing to his mother, as her husband, who was a
seaman, had, for three years past, been confined to a French prison,
and the deceased was the chief support of the family. In order, in some
measure, to make up the loss to the poor woman for the monthly aliment
regularly allowed her by her late son, it was suggested, that a younger
boy, a brother of the deceased, might be taken into the service. This
appeared to be rather a delicate proposition, but it was left to the
landing-master to arrange according to circumstances: such was the
resignation, and at the same time the spirit of the poor woman, that
she readily accepted the proposal, and in a few days the younger Scott
was actually afloat in the place of his brother. On representing this
distressing case to the Board, the Commissioners were pleased to grant
an annuity of L. 5 to Scott’s mother.

[Sidenote: 17 stones are laid. The Building operations completed for
the season.]

The Smeaton not having been made fast to the buoy, had, with the
ebb-tide, drifted to leeward, a considerable way eastward of the
Rock, and could not, till the return of the flood-tide, be worked up
to her moorings, so that the present tide was lost, notwithstanding
all exertions which had been made both ashore and afloat with this
cargo. The artificers landed at 6 A. M., but as no materials could be
got upon the Rock this morning, they were employed in boring trenail
holes, and in various other operations, and after four hours’ work they
returned on board the Tender. When the Smeaton got up to her moorings,
the landing-master’s crew immediately began to unload her. There being
too much wind for towing the praams in the usual way, they were warped
to the Rock, in the most laborious manner, by their windlasses, with
successive grapplings and hawsers laid out for this purpose. At 6 P.
M., the artificers landed, and continued at work till half-past 10,
when the remaining seventeen stones were laid, which completed the
Third entire course, or Fourth of the Light-house, with which the
building operations were closed for this season.

[Sidenote: Summary of the Building operations at the Rock.]

The building, being now on a level with the highest part of the margin
of the foundation-pit, or about 5 feet 6 inches above the lower bed
of the foundation-stone, is computed to contain about 388 tons of
stone; consisting of 400 blocks, connected with 738 oaken trenails,
and 1215 pairs of oaken wedges. The number of hours of low-water work
upon the Rock this season, amounted to about 265, of which number only
80 were employed in building. It was further highly satisfactory to
find, that the apparatus, both in the work-yard at Arbroath, and also
the craft and building apparatus at the Rock, were found to answer
every purpose much beyond expectation. The operations of this season,
therefore, afforded the most flattering prospects of the practicability
of completing the solid part, or first 30 feet of the building, in the
course of another year.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 25th.]

[Sidenote: Shipping obliged to run for Arbroath.]

Owing to very heavy gales of wind from a north-eastern direction, the
Sir Joseph Banks Tender, the Sloop Smeaton, and Light-house Yacht,
were, on the 22d, obliged to slip their moorings, and proceed with
all hands for Arbroath. The Tender and the Smeaton again returned to
their stations at the Bell Rock on the 25th; the former to attend
the mill-wrights, joiners, and smiths, while they completed certain
operations connected with the Railways, and Beacon-house, that
everything might be left in as secure a state as possible for the
winter months; the crew of the Smeaton being at the same time occupied
in lifting the several sets of moorings, building-cranes, and other
apparatus connected with the works, which she carried to Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Appearance of things at the Rock after the late gale.]

[Sidenote: Writer sails for the Northern Light-houses.]

The writer having also sailed on the 25th in the Light-house Yacht,
on his annual inspection of the Northern Light-houses, wished, in
passing the Bell Rock, to have landed, but this he found impossible,
owing to the heavy sea which still ran upon it. The vessel, however,
sailed as near the Rock as possible, that he might, in some measure,
learn the state of matters after the late gales of the 22d and 23d.
He could discern that the Beacon was in good order, but found that
the strong Triangular-sheers of cast-iron, represented in Plate XI.,
at the Eastern wharf, were thrown down and broken to pieces; and that
the North-west buoy had drifted from its moorings. The circumstance
of the breaking of these sheers greatly surprised the writer, as they
consisted of bars of iron, whose cross section was about 10 inches;
having each four longitudinal ribs, of about an inch and a half in
depth, and thus forming a common circumference of 16 inches.

[Sidenote: 1808, October.]

[Sidenote: Monday 31st.]

[Sidenote: Visits the Rock on his return.]

After sailing by the Orkney Islands, and visiting all the Light-houses
on the coast of Scotland, the writer landed at Greenock on the 19th
of October, and soon afterwards returned to the works at Arbroath.
At half-past 11 A. M. on the 31st, he landed on the Bell Rock, and
remained till half-past 3 P. M., examining every thing minutely,
when he had the satisfaction of finding the stones and joints of the
building quite entire. The Railways and Beacon were also in good order;
while the moorings, and all the moveable apparatus, had been conveyed
to Arbroath.

[Sidenote: December.]

[Sidenote: Arrangements for the Writer.]

During the months of November and December, the affairs of the
work-yard went forward in the usual busy manner. A small squad of
artificers went off to the Bell Rock at each period of spring-tides,
when the weather permitted, with tools and implements to repair and
refit any temporary damage which the Beacon or Railways might sustain,
and likewise to examine the state of the several courses of masonry. In
the work-yard the masons were employed in hewing or cutting stones for
the next year’s operations; the joiners, in preparing the upper framing
of the accommodation part of the Beacon-house. The Tender was occupied
in carrying off the workmen who landed at the Rock; in relieving the
crew of the Floating-light in their turns ashore, and supplying that
ship with provisions and necessaries; while the sloop Smeaton made
several trips to the granite quarries of Aberdeen and Peterhead, and
the Light-house Yacht was laid up in ordinary at Leith.

In this state of arrangement, the business of the Bell Rock was left
during the winter months; and the writer is now to continue the
narrative, by giving the account of the operations of the year 1809.



[Sidenote: 1809, January.]

In the month of January 1809, the winds prevailed much from the east
and north-east, which never fail to produce a heavy sea on the eastern
shores of Great Britain, and particularly at the Bell Rock, from its
exposed position to these points. This state of the weather, therefore,
rendered it extremely difficult to communicate with the Floating-light,
for the purpose of relieving the seamen in their turns ashore, and
supplying the ship with provisions and necessaries.

[Sidenote: Railways injured, and Bracing chain-bolts unlocked.]

It was also found impracticable to land upon the Rock itself sooner
in this month than the 20th, when, after several attempts, Mr Francis
Watt and Captain Wilson, two of the engineer’s assistants, landed
with four seamen, and four artificers with their tools, at 12 noon,
and remained till a quarter past 1 P. M. By this time several of the
supports of the iron-railways on the Rock had got loose, and two of the
castings forming the waggon-track and footpath had broken adrift. One
of these was found at a considerable distance from its place, but the
other had entirely disappeared, and must have been washed off the Rock,
although it weighed upwards of 100 lb. In these gales, no fewer than
ten of the bracing-chains of the Beacon were shaken entirely loose,
seven of which had unscrewed the tightening-bolts, and the remaining
three lifted the pieces of rock into which the chain-bats had been
fixed. The tightening-bolts were again screwed up, and pieces of small
wire twisted round the points of the screws, to prevent the nuts from
unlocking. The three bolts, with their chains, which had lifted the
parts of the rock, were disengaged from the Beacon altogether, to
prevent injury to the wooden beams, by their motion with the force of
the sea; and things were otherwise left in as serviceable a state as
the circumstances of a limited stay upon the Rock at this season of
the year would admit. It was, upon the whole, highly satisfactory to
learn, that the Beacon, this important auxiliary to the operations, had
received no material injury, after such a continued tract of stormy
weather; the great iron stanchions sunk into the Rock, which kept the
main beams in their places, and all the joints and fixtures of the
higher parts of the framed work, being quite entire, and without the
smallest appearance of having shifted.

[Sidenote: Proofs of strong currents in the Sea.]

On this trip to the Rock, the Light-house Yacht picked up a
floating-buoy belonging to the navigation of the river Weser. It was
marked “Bremen 1808, W. R. No. 2.,” and measured six feet in length,
and three feet in diameter over the head, being of the form known to
mariners as a Cann buoy. It appeared to have drifted, in the course
of this winter, from the shores of Germany, which, in a direct line,
is a distance of at least 340 miles. This circumstance, as the buoy
presented, while afloat, but a small surface for the wind to act upon,
being heavily bound with iron, and having about two fathoms of mooring
chain appended to it, affords an extraordinary proof of the effects
of the tides and currents in the ocean. We may likewise here notice,
among other instances corroborative of this curious anomaly of the
tides, the drifting, within the same period, of part of the apparatus
belonging to the works of the Bell Rock; particularly the two buoys,
formerly mentioned, that parted from their moorings, and came ashore,
the one, along with a raft of timber, at Fifeness, and the other at
the Island of May, after having been upwards of two months at sea.
But, perhaps, the most remarkable occurrence of this kind, was that of
the Praam-boat, also formerly mentioned, which broke loose from the
Floating-light, and was found at the Redhead about 13 miles distant,
having been at sea for the space of three months and eight days.

[Sidenote: Three large drift-stones found upon the Rock.]

The artificers again landed at the Rock on the morning of the 31st
at 7 o’clock, being rather before _day-break_, and left it again
at 10, after having been on it about three hours. Several of the
bracing-chains were found loosened, notwithstanding the precautions
hitherto used for preventing the bolts from unlocking. But the writer
had resolved, when the weather would admit, to remove these chains
altogether, and introduce strong bars of malleable iron, about
eight feet above the Rock, as represented in Plate VIII., to connect
the several beams in a horizontal direction. At this landing, three
large masses of rock were found close to the Beacon, which had been
drifted upon the Rock by the force of the sea. They were of various
dimensions, the largest containing no less than about 20 cubic feet,
equal perhaps to a ton and a quarter in weight. After a careful
examination, in every direction, of the low-water surface of the rock,
it was ascertained that these stones had formed no part of it, though
of the same description of rock; and it was therefore concluded, they
must have been thrown up from deep water. The refitting of the chains
of the Beacon and the cast-iron Railways, so occupied the time of the
artificers, that they could not get the stones so broken as to be
removed, and thereby prevent their being perhaps thrown, by the force
of the sea, against the Beacon and Railways, like so many battering

[Sidenote: February.]

During the month of February, the weather continued to be extremely
boisterous, and it was not without considerable difficulty that the
Floating-light could be visited at the stated periods; while two
unsuccessful attempts were made, on the 1st and 20th, to land at the
Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Progress of the Works at Arbroath, and exertions made at the

In the work-yard, the preparation of the several courses of the
building was going progressively forward. The Ninth course was now
finished, and part of the Tenth laid upon the platform. At Mylnefield
Quarry, the operations were at a stand; for in winter, as formerly
mentioned, no work is done here, owing to the liability of the stones
to split in frosty weather, especially when newly taken from the
quarry, the laminæ of the strata being then charged with moisture.
But, as granite imbibes water very slowly, and is not liable to
those changes, every exertion continued to be made at the quarries
of Aberdeenshire, that, if possible, the outside casing of granite
might be carried to the height of 30 feet, or to the top of the solid
part of the building, instead of 16 feet, or to high-water mark, as
had been latterly intended. The stone-agent at Aberdeen, accordingly,
had a person traversing the numerous quarries in that neighbourhood,
while one of the foremen from the work-yard at Arbroath, was similarly
employed, during the winter months, at Peterhead; and whenever a stone
was found answerable to the Light-house moulds, it was immediately
purchased, and laid aside for the use of the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: 1809, February.]

[Sidenote: Employment of Shipping.]

The sloops Smeaton and Alexander made several trips to the North, and
also to Mylnefield, near Dundee, for stones which had been quarried
in the course of the summer months, and were in no danger from the
frost; but owing to the difficult nature of the navigation of the Tay
in winter, these voyages were frequently attended with considerable
danger. On the last trip which the Smeaton made to this quarry, she
had a very narrow escape, and lost both her boat and an anchor; but
the hazardous state of the vessel and all on board, will be better
understood by the following very distinct and explicit letter or
journal from Mr Thomas Calder, commander of the Light-house Yacht, who,
on this occasion, was acting master on board of the Smeaton.

[Sidenote: Captain Calder’s account of a trip to the Tay.]

 _“Arbroath, 25th February 1809._


“Sir,--At 3 o’clock P. M., on the 21st inst., I got under way from the
South Ferry Roads for Mylnefield quarry, wind at West. At 7 were about
a mile from the quarry pierhead. Light airs of wind. Got beset amongst
ice, and brought up with the small bower-anchor. At midnight, all hands
employed hanging fenders over the bows and sides, to save the vessel
from getting cut with the ice.

“At day-light, on the 22d., being high-water, got under way; ice all
round, and had frequently to let go an anchor, to allow it to drift
past us. Could not get up to the quarry, and at 10 put into Dundee.
During the remainder of this day had light breezes, with hard frost.

“On the 23d, at 7 A. M. got again under way, with a westerly wind,
but still could not make up to the quarry. At 10, had drifted down as
far as the Lights of Tay, having little wind, but a heavy sea from
E.SE. At 11, the boat filled, and was turned bottom up; nothing could
be done for her safety; cut her adrift. At noon, had a very heavy sea
on our broadside, breaking over all, with little or no wind. Got into
three fathoms water, the sea sweeping every thing off the deck that was
moveable. All hands in the rigging for safety, except the man at the
helm. Endeavour if possible to get back, but all in vain. Let go our
anchor in two fathoms water, the sea breaking over all. At 9 o’clock P.
M., being then high-water, let go the best bower-anchor. At midnight
calm weather, with heavy breaking seas.

“At 9 A. M. of the 24th, got under way again, and took our fate, being
in much peril to ride longer. Could not purchase our anchor, and were
therefore obliged to cut the cable. Had light airs of wind, but still
a heavy sea. Went over the bank in going out of the Tay, and, at 9 in
the evening, had the good fortune to get into Arbroath. In the course
of this trip we saw one sloop sink with all hands in the rigging, while
close by us, but we could render them no assistance, and we were still
drifting towards the shore. Another sloop, named the Lady Kinnaird, I
believe bound for Leith, God only knows what her fate was; being thick
with snow I lost sight of her frequently. It was often impossible for
a man to stand on deck; and we took to the rigging for safety. The
Smeaton and these two vessels being a long way a-head of six of the
Dundee London smacks, were certainly the means of saving them. The
ship’s company is now employed in rigging the Light-house Yacht, and
fitting her for sea. I am, Sir, your humble servant,


[Sidenote: 1809, March.]

[Sidenote: Large Stones removed. Joisting of platform lifted by the

The month of March set in with some pretty good weather, and eight
artificers landed upon the Rock on the 5th, at half-past 11 A. M.,
and remained till half-past 1, when they got the three large stones,
formerly mentioned as lying near the Beacon, broken, and reduced to
such a size as to admit of their removal. Several of the fixtures of
the Railways had got loose, and were again secured; and two lengths of
the waggon-tracks were broken to pieces by the movement of the above
mentioned stones, which, in their progress across the rock, had made
indelible ruts upon it. The bracing-chains of the Beacon still required
to be screwed up; but the essential parts of this fabric were in the
most entire and perfect state; although all the joisting of the lower
platform, excepting three pieces, had been carried away. The deals of
this floor had been lifted at the end of the working season, being only
about 30 feet above the Rock, but the joisting presented so little
resistance to the waves, that it had been allowed to remain, being only
fixed in a slender manner, that both the floor and the joisting might
lift with the force of the sea, without endangering the safety of the

[Sidenote: A vessel in danger of being wrecked on the Bell Rock.]

On this occasion, the people of the Floating-light informed the landing
party, that they had just been spoken to by the crew of a large brig
from Gottenburgh, bound for Liverpool. This vessel having got out of
her reckoning, had been lying-to in the entrance of the Frith for
three days, not knowing the land. But having been directed as to their
situation, the strangers now shaped their course for the Orkneys. Had
it not been for these instructions, this vessel, in all probability,
might have been wrecked on the Bell Rock; and, therefore, looking
prospectively to the completion of this work, we may see its extensive
and important advantages to shipping.

[Sidenote: Fourteenth course laid on the platform, and further progress
of the Work.]

During the remainder of this month, no opportunity occurred for landing
on the Rock, but the other departments of the service went forward with
all possible dispatch. The Thirteenth course was nearly completed,
and a part of the Fourteenth had been laid on the platform. The last
of the moulds for the granite stones, to the height of 30 feet, had
now been sent to the quarries of Aberdeen and Peterhead, where the
Smeaton, and the hired sloop Alexander, were each loading a cargo. Mr
Peter Logan had now left the quarries at Peterhead, where he had been
for some months; and Alexander Davidson, one of the principal granite
masons, appointed to attend the quarries at Aberdeen, was also soon to
be removed from that station, to perform the same duty at the sandstone
quarry of Mylnefield. Measures had likewise been taken for providing
the necessary castings for the extension of the Railways to the western
landing place at the Rock, which altogether were to include a range of
about 800 feet.

[Sidenote: Cast-iron Mushroom Anchors. Difficulty in procuring

The uncertainty attending the fixing of the malleable iron shank into
the large cast-iron head of the mushroom anchor, represented in Plate
X. Fig. 4., from its liability to shake loose, had induced the writer
to make trial of a mushroom anchor, made wholly of cast-iron, which was
finished in a very complete manner by the Shotts Iron Company. At the
same works, castings were also made for a set of new sheers for those
broken in the month of September at the eastern landing creek, which
answered all the purposes of a crane, as represented in Plate XI. The
two new praam-boats building at Arbroath, had advanced considerably
in the course of this month, and were now ready for the laying of the
decks. Of all the materials connected with those which may be termed
of a trifling nature, none was more difficult to be procured than the
oaken trenails, for fixing the stones of the lower or solid part of
the building while the work was in progress. After much correspondence
with London and other ports, a considerable quantity was procured from
trenail merchants of Wapping. But such was the demand for oak timber
at this period, owing to the great supply wanted for the Navy, that it
was not only at a considerable expence, from about L. 3 to L. 5 per
hundred, but with great difficulty, that trenails of the dimensions
wanted could be collected. It was found by a calculation, at this
time, that 2544 trenails, from 20 to 26 inches in length, and 1¼
inches in diameter, and 3720 pairs of wedges, from 15 to 19 inches in
length, 3 inches in breadth, and 1 inch in thickness at the top, would
still be wanted. Fortunately, however, a great quantity of oak timber,
suitable for trenails, was brought about this time from the Highland
districts to Perth, for making the spokes of carriage-wheels. A supply
of these was accordingly got, at a much cheaper rate than the ordinary
trenails of the carpenter, and which were also considered better for
the purposes of the work.

[Sidenote: Purchase of the Sloop Patriot.]

In order that the building operations at the Rock might suffer as
little delay as possible, from the difficulty attending the regular
transportation of the stones from Arbroath, and also to provide
against the numerous accidents to which the vessels in this service
were incident, it was judged proper to have another vessel besides the
Smeaton for this department of the service. The writer consequently
corresponded with various ports, with a view to procure a vessel of
about 40 tons burden, or nearly the size of the Smeaton. Two vessels of
this description were offered for sale, at the same price of L. 470;
but one of them, the sloop Patriot of Kirkaldy, was stated to be a new
vessel, which had hardly been at sea, while the other was several years
old; the Kirkaldy vessel was therefore preferred.

[Sidenote: 1809, April.]

On the 5th and 6th April, the boats of the Floating-light landed the
artificers on the Bell Rock at 11 o’clock A. M., and they remained till
1, having had two hours’ work each tide in refitting the railways, and
setting up the bracing-chains of the Beacon, which were still found
in a loose state. Notwithstanding all the precautions used, one of
them had unscrewed its nut to the extent of 3 inches, by the friction
arising from the agitation of the sea, but every thing else was found
to be in good order.

[Sidenote: Floating-light encounters some heavy seas.]

From the 6th to the 20th, the weather was particularly boisterous,
the winds being chiefly from the eastward, with occasional showers
of snow. On the 16th it was found necessary to veer out the cable of
the Floating-light from the 30th to the 90th fathom service; and, on
the 17th, at 2 o’clock A. M., she had shipped so heavy a sea, that it
filled both of the boats amid-ships, and ran down the companion and
hatches in such quantities as to give great alarm to all on board,
who, for a time, concluded that the vessel was sinking.

[Sidenote: Twelfth course completed by the Stone-cutters.]

About the beginning of this month, the stone-cutters in the workyard
had just completed the hewing of the sandstone or hearting of the
Fourteenth course of the building: but those employed at the granite
blocks of the course were at a stand, both with that and the Thirteenth
course, for want of materials: a supply, however, having timeously
arrived from Aberdeen and Peterhead, these courses were proceeded with,
though, as yet, none higher than the Twelfth was in a finished state.
As the sandstone masons were considerably ahead of those who wrought
the granite, the former were chiefly employed in laying the courses on
the platform, and boring the trenail holes. The necessary implements
were also prepared, and in readiness for shipping for the Rock, with 62
barrels of lime, 78 barrels of pozzolano, and 60 barrels of sand.

[Sidenote: Employment of Shipping.]

The Light-house Yacht was now fitted out for her voyage with stores for
the Northern Light-houses, and the other general business connected
with her department. The Sir Joseph Banks Tender was ready for sea by
the 17th of April; and the Smeaton and Alexander were still making
trips to the quarries, and occasionally supplying the Floating-light
with provisions.

[Sidenote: Sloop Patriot condemned.]

[Sidenote: Opinion of Mr Solicitor-General Boyle.]

The sloop Patriot, of 45 register tons, formerly mentioned as having
been purchased for the work, had her hatches enlarged, for the
conveniency of loading and delivering stones; and was otherwise fitted
up for the service at the Rock. On the 20th, she took on board five
cast-iron mushroom anchors, with chains and floating-buoys, together
with a quantity of cast-iron work for extending the Railways. With this
cargo she sailed from Leith on the 21st of April, reached the Bell Rock
on the morning of the 22d, and was discharged with the assistance of
the boats of the Tender and Floating-light. In the course of this trip,
the Patriot was observed to make a considerable quantity of water;
and instead, therefore, of proceeding for the quarries for a cargo of
stone, it was found necessary to send her to Arbroath for examination,
when James Macdonald, the master, reported that he could not proceed
to sea until the vessel underwent repair. A warrant was accordingly
obtained from the Judge-Admiral for a survey of carpenters, who
declared her “not sea-worthy.” On farther opening the bottom planks,
it appeared, that, upon the starboard-bow, both planks and trenails
were in a state of decay, and the expence of the necessary repairs
was estimated at L. 80. Upon this report of the carpenters being
produced, a correspondence was entered into with the late owner of the
vessel, who resisted the charge; and the matter being submitted by the
Light-house Board to Mr Solicitor-General Boyle, then _ex officio_ one
of the Commissioners, (now Lord Justice-Clerk,) he was of opinion, from
the circumstance of the Patriot’s having been sold as an almost new
vessel, that the late owner was liable for the estimated repairs. Upon
this opinion being made known, the sum of L. 80 was immediately paid,
and the vessel was put under repair.

[Sidenote: Two Praams launched.]

Two of the praam-boats built at Arbroath had been launched, by the
names of “Fernie,” and “Dickie,” after the respective builders,
and were fitted out with complete sets of warps and grapplings for
landing the stones at the Bell Rock. Every thing being in readiness
for commencing the operations, it was fully expected that the solid
part would be completed in the course of the ensuing season, and the
Light-house thus carried to the height of 30 feet.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: Tender sails. Floating light put under charge of Mr Reid.]

The Sir Joseph Banks Tender, having been fitted out for sea, sailed on
the 20th of April, with the Hedderwick praam-boat in tow, to attend
the works at the Bell Rock. She had also on board 15 artificers,
consisting of mill-wrights, joiners, smiths and masons, to be employed
in extending the Railways, and fitting up the Beacon-house as a place
of residence for the workmen. Having left the harbour of Arbroath
at 5 A. M., the Floating-light was hailed at 8, when her boat came
alongside with Captain Wilson, the landing-master, who was now to
leave his charge on board of the Floating-light for a time, and attend
as landing-master at the Bell Rock, while Mr John Reid, mariner, and
principal light-keeper, took charge as master of the Floating-light,
acting in these capacities with much credit to himself and advantage to
the service.

[Sidenote: Two sets of Moorings laid down.]

The first attention of the landing-master was to lay down a
mushroom-anchor, weighing 18 cwt. 1 qr. with 32 fathoms of ⅞th inch
chain, in 13 fathoms water, as the future moorings of the Tender; the
Beacon on the Bell Rock bearing E. by S. distant ¼ mile. A set of
moorings were also laid down about 300 fathoms to the eastward of this
for the praam-boat, with a mushroom-anchor, weighing 15 cwt. 24 lb.,
with 25 fathoms of chain, in 11 fathoms water. The artificers, having
left the Tender in two boats, landed on the Rock at 9 A.M. and returned
on board again at half-past 12 noon. But, in the afternoon, the
weather becoming more coarse, with the wind from the NE., accompanied
with showers of snow, a landing was not attempted in the evening.

[Sidenote: Friday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Tender slips her moorings.]

The wind to-day being still from the NE., a heavy sea set upon the
Rock. The artificers, notwithstanding, left the Tender in two boats, at
10 A. M., but, after various attempts to land at the western creek, it
was found impracticable, and the boats returned to the vessel at half
past 11; when the Tender was found to ride so heavily at her moorings,
that it was judged advisable to slip her hawser; when she set sail, and
at 5 P. M. anchored in the bay of Arbroath; but, in the course of the
night, she again returned to her moorings off the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Other three sets of Moorings laid down.]

The wind having come round to the south to-day, the weather had
moderated; and at 10 A. M. the artificers landed, their number having
been augmented by nine additional men from Leith, so that they now
counted twenty-five. The latter part of this day was employed in laying
down three sets of moorings with mushroom-anchors, weighing from 15 to
23 cwt., for the use of the Stone-Lighters, and other craft employed at
the work. The positions of these, as nearly as may be, will be seen in
Plate V.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 23d.]

[Sidenote: Artificers cannot land.]

At 6 A. M. the artificers left the vessel, with an intention to
land on the Beacon at high-water, but there being too much sea,
they returned without effecting their purpose. At one P. M., being
low-water, fifteen of them made a landing, and remained till 4 o’clock,
making preparations for commencing the operations at the Railways and
Beacon-house. This afternoon the Smeaton supplied the Floating-light
and Tender with necessaries, and returned to Arbroath, carrying with
her twelve of the artificers for the work-yard.

[Sidenote: Monday, 24th.]

At 7 A. M. the artificers left the Tender, and landed on the Beacon,
where they remained all the day. The masons, who could only be employed
on the Rock during low-water, in boring holes for the bats, and in
dressing the Rock for the supports of the Railways, landed at 1 P. M.,
and left off work at 3, having been two hours at work, when the tide
overflowed the Rock; but the joiners and smiths continued on the Beacon
till 7 P. M.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 25th.]

During these twenty-four hours the wind was from the westward, with
moderate breezes and showers of rain. At half-past 6 A. M., the smiths
and joiners landed on the Beacon, and continued the whole day. At
half-past 3 P. M., the low-water artificers landed, and the whole
returned again on board of the Tender at half-past 8.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 26th.]

[Sidenote: Sailors account for the unsettled state of the weather.]

The weather continued to be very unsettled, and there being still great
quantities of snow lying on the hills of Angus, it was an observation
made by the sailors, “That the wind never continued twenty-four hours
in one direction, while there was any whiteness on the Braes of Angus.”
To-day, it was at E.NE., with strong breezes and hazy weather. At
half-past 8 the joiners and smiths left the vessel for the Rock, but
could not make a landing, and returned again at half-past 9, when she
immediately slipped her moorings and sailed for Arbroath, to wait the
return of the spring-tides.

[Sidenote: Progress of the work.]

At Arbroath, the several departments of the work went forward with
alacrity, and the courses of the building, as high as the 19th, were
now ready for shipment. The Patriot having undergone a complete repair,
was equipped for sea. The Smeaton was employed chiefly in attending
the quarries at Mylnefield, and the Alexander those of Aberdeenshire.
The Tender took on board provisions, water, and other necessaries for
the supply of the Floating-light and artificers, and also some of the
dressed timber for fitting up the cabins of the higher parts of the

[Sidenote: Sunday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: Tender sails for the Rock.]

The Tender accordingly left the harbour of Arbroath this morning, under
the command of Mr David Taylor, and sailed for the Bell Rock with
Mr Francis Watt and eighteen artificers. At 6 A. M. they spoke the
Floating-light, and got Mr James Wilson, the landing-master, on board.
The wind being from the westward with moderate breezes, the artificers
were landed at 7 A. M., and remained on the Rock till 11 P. M. While
the water was low they were employed at refitting and extending the
Railways; and when the Rock was overflowed, they ascended to the
Beacon, and continued their operations. The wind came to blow so fresh
from the N.W., or in the direction of the Tender’s moorings from the
Rock, that it was not judged safe to make her fast; and as soon as the
artificers got on board, she beat to windward and got into St Andrew’s
bay for the night.

[Sidenote: 1809, May.]

[Sidenote: Monday, 1st.]

In the morning the Tender stood again towards the Bell Rock. In the
course of the day the wind shifted from W.NW. to N.E. The writer
reached the Rock this morning, in the Smeaton, at half-past 7, when he
landed with nineteen artificers, and remained till noon, and then went
on board of the Tender, now at her moorings.

[Sidenote: Writer visits the Rock.]

The several tides’ work which had been got upon the Rock this season,
had enabled the artificers to refit the damage which the railways had
sustained during the winter months, and to make further progress with
the great circular track round the building, which measured fifty-five
feet in diameter; but, as yet, the western reach had made but little
advancement. The fitting up of the temporary residence on the higher
part of the Beacon, began to make some more habitable-like appearance;
the joistings for the respective floors were laid, and a few of the
upright spars of the framing had also been set up. This work continued
to create much interest with every one connected with the operations,
as its completion was to relieve those affected with the sea-sickness,
and the whole troop from the continual plague of boating to and from
the Rock by day and night. Having examined the works here, the writer
left the Rock at 11 P. M. with the artificers, who went on board of the
Tender, while he embarked in the Smeaton and sailed for Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 2d.]

It blew so fresh, from West to N.W., that no landing could be made
to-day, and the Tender was obliged to slip her moorings, and beat up
into St Andrew’s bay, to pass the night in smooth water.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: Some timber is landed.]

The wind was still blowing fresh from the same quarter, and, of
course, directly upon the Rock from the moorings of the Tender; it was
therefore judged proper, in the present unsettled state of the weather,
that she should keep under sail, instead of making fast. At 9 A. M.
the artificers landed, and returned on board at 1 P. M. In the evening
they again landed and remained till 9. Notwithstanding the state of the
weather, several boat-loads of timber and iron were landed for the use
of the Railways and Beacon.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 4th.]

From the state of the winds at W.NW., instead of making fast to her
moorings, the Tender kept plying about the Rock all day, and passed the
night reaching about in St Andrew’s Bay, and returned to the Rock at
the proper time of tide in the morning. At 7 A. M., eighteen artificers
landed, and remained at work till 6 P. M., when they again returned on

[Sidenote: Friday, 5th.]

This morning, Captain Taylor embraced the opportunity of the wind
having veered to the north, to make the Tender fast to her moorings,
but there was too much wind and sea for landing on the Rock. The vessel
was, therefore, made as snug as possible, with her top-masts struck,
her yards lowered, and boltsprit run in, to enable her to ride more

[Sidenote: Saturday, 6th.]

[Sidenote: Tender in danger of drifting upon the Rock.]

The wind was at North to-day, and the weather being more moderate, Mr
Watt, with eight of the artificers, landed at 6 A. M., on the Beacon,
and at 10, being then low-water, the remaining twelve followed. At
half-past 3 P. M., the whole returned on board, as the wind blew very
hard. The boltsprit was launched out, and the ship was got ready for
sea, in case of the wind shifting to the N.W., which might endanger the
vessel’s drifting upon the Rock.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 7th.]

The wind remained in the same direction, but the weather was much
more moderate, and at 7 A. M., eight artificers left the vessel for
the Beacon, where they were employed at the upper works. At 10 the
remaining twelve artificers landed and continued at work till 4 P. M.,
when the whole returned on board of the vessel. At 5, the joiners and
smiths again went to the Beacon, and remained till half-past 8.

[Sidenote: Monday, 8th.]

At 6 A. M., the artificers employed at the Beacon landed, and at noon
the low-water workmen followed, and returned on board again at 5 P.
M. At 9, the joiners and smiths also returned to the vessel for the
night. The weather was so fine to-day, that the crew of the Tender were
enabled to paint her upper works; for, although this had been intended
all the season, yet the present was the first favourable opportunity.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers return to Arbroath.]

The weather still continued moderate, but as the tides became neap,
little could now be done to the Railways. The operations were,
therefore, confined, at this time, chiefly to the upper works of
the Beacon. At 6 A. M., eight artificers went to the Beacon, and at
half-past 10, the other twelve landed on the Rock, and remained till
half-past 1. At 6 P. M., the whole came on board, when the vessel made
sail for Arbroath, to wait the return of spring-tides.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 13th.]

[Sidenote: Tender sails for the Rock.]

The Sir Joseph Banks having been supplied with necessaries for the
ensuing spring-tides, left Arbroath at 2 A. M., having in tow the
Hedderwick praam-boat; and at 2 P. M., both the ship and praam
were made fast to their respective moorings, when six joiners and
two smiths were landed on the Beacon. At 5, the remaining eighteen
artificers landed on the Rock, and continued till 9, when the whole
returned on board of the Tender, after a good evening’s work at the
Railways and cabins of the Beacon.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: Joiners get high premiums. One of them is hurt.]

At half-past 6 A. M., twenty-seven artificers landed on the rock,
and returned again at half-past 9. At half-past 10, the joiners and
smiths again went to the Beacon, and at 6 P. M. the remaining eighteen
artificers landed, and the whole returned to the ship at half-past 9;
the masons having been six hours and a half on the rock to-day, while
the joiners and smiths were about fourteen hours at work on the rock
and Beacon together, so that their premiums for extra hours’ work,
independently of their stated pay and allowances, were considerable,
averaging about L. 3 per month for the workmen, and double that sum
for the foremen. Unfortunately, one of the joiners was pretty severely
hurt, by the fall of a mason’s pick upon one of his feet, from the
smith’s gallery on the Beacon, which disabled him for some time from
working in the water.

[Sidenote: Monday, 15th.]

[Sidenote: The work makes rapid progress.]

The weather continuing moderate, and the tides being good, the work
went on without interruption during these tides. This morning at
half-past 6 o’clock, twenty-seven artificers landed on the rock, and
continued till a quarter past 10. At noon, the joiners and smiths
returned to the Beacon, and commenced their operations, as usual,
at the higher parts of it; and at half-past 6, or at low-water, the
remaining eighteen artificers landed, when the whole were employed
at the railways, fixing mooring rings, and laying down small
floating-buoys as guides for the landing-master, in approaching the
rock from the westward with the loaded praams. In all these operations,
the sailors took an active part, and the number of hands at work
to-day, including them, amounted to thirty-eight. In this manner,
the work was continued without any material interruption during five
days. The low-water operations, including the night-tides, generally
continued for six hours, and the joiners and smiths, for twelve or
fourteen hours each day.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: One of the Buoys gets water-logged. Tender leaves her

The wind, which had been easterly during these spring-tides, continued
moderate till yesterday, when it blew what sailors term a _stiff
breeze_, which soon set up a considerable sea upon the Rock, and the
tides being now in the state of neap, no landing was attempted to-day.
One of the mooring buoys having got water-logged, must soon have
disappeared and sunk, had not the Tender been hauled alongside, when
it was taken upon deck. An auger-hole was bored in it and the water
let off, being what the sailors term “_bleeding_;” when the hole was
closed with a plug, and the buoy was again lowered in the water, and
floated as before. The spring-tides being now considered over, the
Tender sailed for the bay of Arbroath, where she was made fast to a set
of moorings laid down for the conveniency of the work during the summer
months, and at 8 P. M. the artificers came on shore in the boats.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Tender again sails for the Rock.]

The operations at the Rock, during the last spring-tides, had exhausted
the stock of timber, of which a great quantity could not be kept
either on board of the Tender, or on the Beacon, while much loss and
inconveniency had frequently been experienced by attempting to keep it
afloat in rafts. At 5 o’clock this morning, the boats left Arbroath
with seventeen artificers, and two rafts of timber, which were taken on
board of the Tender, when she immediately sailed for the Bell Rock. But
there being little wind, it was 7 in the evening before she was made
fast to her moorings; and, from the state of the tide, no landing was
made this evening.

[Sidenote: Monday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Great exertions made in laying the circular track of

The weather was moderate to-day, and, at 9 A. M., Mr Watt and the
artificers left the vessel for the Beacon; but the wind having been
at S.E., it was with great difficulty that a landing was effected. At
half-past 11, the masons and other low-water artificers landed, and
proceeded with the operations of the railways; but the spring-tides
being as yet very languid, little work was done, and the boats returned
to the Tender in about an hour and a half. The joiners and smiths,
however, continued their operations on the higher parts of the Beacon
till 9 P. M. Had it not been a matter of extreme importance to get the
circular track of the Railway completed, so that the waggons might
be wheeled round the site of the building, and the materials brought
within reach of the building-cranes in every direction, as will be
understood from Plates VI. and IX., the artificers, at this period of
the tides, would not have remained at the Rock, but have returned to
the work-yard at Arbroath. In this stage of the work, however, the
gaining of a single tide was an object of great moment to its future

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 23d.]

[Sidenote: Attempt made to erect one of the cranes.]

The artificers employed at the Beacon, landed upon it at 6 o’clock
A.M., being then high-water. At 12 noon, one of the building cranes
was brought to the Rock in a praam, by the landing-master’s crew;
but, as the water did not leave the Rock sufficiently for getting hold
of the ring-bats of the guy-tackles, the crane could not be set up:
it was therefore laid upon the building, and made fast to Lewis-bats
fixed in the upper course, and left in that state for the present.
The praam-boat was towed to her moorings at 2 o’clock P. M., but the
joiners and smiths continued at work till 10 o’clock, when they came on
board of the Tender.

[Sidenote: Smeaton sails with the first stones this season.]

Things being now in a state of preparation for commencing the building
operations for the season, the sloop Smeaton was loaded with twenty-six
blocks of stone belonging to the Fifth course. She had also on board a
few casks of pozzolano, cement, lime, and sand, with trenails, wedges,
and other materials connected with the building. At 5 P. M., the writer
embarked with Mr Peter Logan the building-foreman, Captain Wilson
the landing-master, and fifteen masons, and sailed for the Bell Rock
with the first cargo of stones for this season’s operations. The wind
was moderate, but being easterly, it was not till 9 o’clock that the
vessel reached the floating-light, when the writer, accompanied by the
landing-master, went on board to examine her moorings after the gales
of winter, while the Smeaton continued her course to the Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: Floating light’s moorings examined.]

The last night was the first that the writer had passed in his old
quarters on board of the Floating-light for about twelve months, when
the weather was so fine, and the sea so smooth, that even here he felt
but little or no motion, excepting at the turn of the tide, when the
vessel gets into what the seamen term the _trough of the sea_. At 5
A. M., all hands were called to man the windlass for heaving up the
moorings, consisting of a cast-iron mushroom anchor, weighing 17 cwt.,
and forty fathoms of chain, made from bars of iron one and a half
inch square, and a hempen cable of 120 fathoms, measuring 16 inches
in circumference. At 6, the crew began to lay the part of this cable
upon deck that had been in the hold, and afterwards to heave up that
which was in the water: the whole was found in a serviceable condition,
excepting where the operation of _worming and rounding_ had been used
to defend the part which was most liable to be chafed on the ground.
This operation consists in warping a small rope of about two and a
half inches in circumference, round between the strands or hollows in
the cable, so as to give the whole a more uniform surface. This small
rope, however, was found in several places, to cut yarns of the cable,
and appeared to be attended with very bad consequences. The master
and mate therefore concurred in opinion, that the worming should be
discontinued in future, as the small rope stretched more than the
cable, and chafed it. There was also a small rope wound round the cable
in a circular form, which, being laid with parcelling, or strips of
canvas, was a good defence to it.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: State of the Floating-light’s Moorings.]

At 8 A. M., the best bower-anchor and cable were in readiness to be
let go, to hold the ship while the mushroom-anchor was lifted. The
crew then began to heave up the mooring-chain, which had now been in
the water upwards of two years. The first 10 fathoms of the chain were
distinctly observed to have suffered by the action of the marine acid.
The links had a grooved-like appearance, perhaps, from the softer
parts of the iron being wasted, in the lengthway of the link, and
those parts which were more hard were observed in a raised form like
threads; but at the weldings or joinings of the links, where the iron
was more consolidated, from having received additional beating, it had
not suffered oxidation in the slightest degree. The next 10 fathoms of
the chain had also a slight appearance of waste. It may be remarked,
that the half of the chain next to the hempen cable, was generally
suspended between the ship and the ground, in moderate weather, and
was therefore more exposed to waste from the current of the tides than
the half next to the anchor. On heaving up this last part, which lay
chiefly on the ground, it was found to be almost as free of rust, some
trifling spots excepted, as when it was first laid down: in general,
the hammer marks, and even somewhat of the bluish appearance peculiar
to the surface of forged iron, were perceptible. The mushroom-anchor
had not sustained the slightest change, and, although the ground was
rather soft, did not appear to have been imbedded in the mud; so that
the ship had rode chiefly by the weight of the chain. On narrowly
examining it, when laid upon deck, two of the links were observed to be
insufficient, the rust having exposed the faulty parts to view. These
defective links were accordingly broken out or removed, and the sound
ones connected by means of shackles, kept on board for this purpose. At
noon, after seven hours of hard labour, the examination of the moorings
was completed, and the writer left the Floating-light, accompanied by
the landing-master, to attend the work on the Rock at low-water.

[Sidenote: State of the works at the Rock.]

At 6 A. M. Mr Watt, who conducted the operations of the Railways and
Beacon-house, had landed with nine artificers. At half-past 1 P. M.,
Mr Peter Logan had also landed with fifteen masons, and immediately
proceeded to set up the crane, which still lay lashed to the building.
The sheer-crane or apparatus for lifting the stones out of the
praam-boats at the eastern creek had been already erected, and the
Railways now formed about two-thirds of an entire circle round the
building: some progress had likewise been made with the Reach towards
the western landing-place. The external framing of the cabins of the
Beacon was in the state described in the second year’s work, and
partly represented in Plate IX. The floors being also laid, the Beacon
now assumed the appearance of a habitation. The Smeaton was at her
moorings, with the Fernie Praam-boat astern, for which she was laying
down moorings, and the Tender being also at her station, the Bell Rock
had again put on its former busy aspect. At 11 A. M., the Hedderwick
praam was loaded with 11 stones, which were safely landed upon the
Rock: and at 2 P. M. the Fernie was loaded with 16 stones, and towed to
her moorings, to wait the proper time of tide for getting to the Rock.
The Smeaton being discharged, she sailed for Arbroath at 5 P. M.

[Sidenote: Plants and Animals on the building.]

The wind was from the east, with light airs, and there was hardly any
ruffle or motion on the surface of the water. The masons were chiefly
employed during this tide in clearing the upper course of the building
from sea-weed, of which, since the month of September, it had acquired
a thick coating. The weed consisted chiefly of _Fucus digitatus_,
which, on the new wall, had attained the length of about 18 inches,
with a proportional thickness of stalk and breadth of frond, during the
preceding eight or nine months. The barnacle was also pretty numerous,
and a good many white buckies and small mussels had attached themselves
to several parts of the building. The masons left the Rock this evening
at 6 o’clock, having had four hours and a half’s work; but the joiners
and smiths continued till 10 P. M., and had therefore been 16 hours on
the Rock to-day.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 25th.]

At half-past 2 this morning, the landing-master’s bell was rung on
board of the Tender; and at a quarter past 3, the writer landed with
fifteen masons, nine mill-wrights and joiners, two blacksmiths, and ten
seamen, in all thirty-six, with their respective foremen. The low-water
work continued two hours and a half, when those employed at the Beacon
were left as usual to continue their operations. In the afternoon, at 3
o’clock, the builders were again landed, and remained on the Rock till
8, having been five hours at work, when all hands returned on board of
the Tender.

[Sidenote: Friday, 26th.]

The wind had shifted to the south, with fresh breezes, which set a
considerable sea upon the Rock. The boats landed the artificers at a
quarter past 3 this morning, who continued on the Rock till a quarter
past 6, when it was overflowed. They landed again at a quarter past 3
P. M., and remained till a quarter past 6, when all hands returned on
board of the Tender for the night. The masons, for the two last days,
were employed in cutting out the square joggle-holes in the upper
course of last season’s work, represented with deep shaded lines in
Plate XIII., which were not, as usual, cut in the respective stones
before they left the work-yard, that there might be the less resistance
to the waves during the storms of winter. The seamen were employed
this tide in landing wedges and trenails, with cement, lime, sand, and
pozzolano, the necessary materials for mortar: these were stowed on the
mortar gallery or the lower floor of the Beacon-house; which, in a work
of this nature, was found to be of inestimable value for this purpose.
The mill-wrights, joiners, and smiths continued their operations as
formerly at the Railways and upper part of the Beacon.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 27th.]

[Sidenote: Builders commence and lay 5 stones.]

The landing-master’s bell rung this morning at half-past 4, and at
a quarter past 5, the artificers and seamen, thirty-six in number,
commenced work, and continued for 2 hours and a half. The crane having
been raised, and the necessary preparations made for beginning the
building for the season, five stones of the Fifth course were landed
and laid. In the afternoon, the artificers returned to the Rock at a
quarter past 4, and remained till 9, when other five stones were laid.
The seamen landed six stones with the Hedderwick praam, and sixteen
stones with the Fernie, being her first cargo. The mill-wrights,
joiners, and smiths, were employed at the Railways, and fitting up the
cabins of the Beacon-house.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 28th.]

[Sidenote: 22 stones laid.]

Landed this morning at half-past 5, and continued at work till a
quarter to 9; and, in the evening tide, the work commenced at a
quarter past 5, and continued till 9, when all hands left the Rock.
The landing-master’s crew brought two cargoes of the praam-boats to
the Rock, consisting of 22 stones, which were laid or built. During
the first and middle parts of these twenty-four hours, the wind was
from the west, blowing fresh, but towards the evening it shifted to the
N.E., with rain.

[Sidenote: Monday, 29th.]

[Sidenote: Tender rides very hard.]

The wind having blown fresh all night, and a considerable sea set up,
there was no possibility of landing on the Rock to-day. In the course
of the night it blew so fresh, that Captain Taylor struck the top-masts
of the Tender, launched in her boltsprit, hoisted the boats on board,
and had every thing in a state calculated to make her ride at her
moorings as easily as possible. At 2 P. M. the vessel pitched very
hard, and one of the mooring-hawsers having got foul of the cathead or
timber, the ship came with such a jerk, from the run of the sea, as was
sufficient to carry it away. But the Tender still kept her station,
in company with the sloop Smeaton, and the praam-boats Hedderwick and

[Sidenote: Tuesday 30th.]

[Sidenote: Apparatus on the Rock viewed from a boat.]

To-day the wind shifted from N.E. to west, but there was still too
heavy a sea for landing on the Rock. The writer being on board, looked
often and anxiously for the safety of the crane and the unfinished
course of the building. At low-water, he accompanied the landing-master
in a boat, and went round the Rock, when he had the satisfaction to
find that every thing had the appearance of being in good order.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 31st.]

[Sidenote: 13 stones laid. Landing rendered difficult from snow

The landing-master’s bell, often no very favourite sound, rung at 6
this morning; but on this occasion, it is believed, it was gladly
received by all on board, as the welcome signal of the return of better
weather. At a quarter past 7, the artificers landed, and continued at
work four hours and a half. At 7 P. M. they landed again, and at 10 all
hands, 36 in number, returned to the Tender. The masons laid 13 stones
to-day, which the seamen had landed, together with other building
materials. During these twenty-four hours the wind was from the south,
blowing fresh breezes, accompanied with showers of snow. In the
morning, the snow showers were so thick, that it was with difficulty
the landing-master, who always steered the leading-boat, could make his
way to the Rock through the drift. But at the Bell Rock, neither snow,
nor rain, nor fog, nor wind, retarded the progress of the work, if
unaccompanied by a heavy swell or breach of the sea.

[Sidenote: 1809, June.]

[Sidenote: Thursday, 1st.]

[Sidenote: State of the weather. Zeal of the Writer’s assistants.]

The weather, during the months of April and May, had been uncommonly
boisterous, and so cold that the thermometer seldom exceeded 40°,
while the barometer was generally about 29.50. We had not only hail
and sleet, but the snow, on the last day of May, lay on the decks and
rigging of the ship to the depth of about three inches; and, although
now entering upon the month of June, the length of the day was the
chief indication of summer. Yet such is the effect of habit, and such
was the expertness of the landing-master’s crew, that, even in this
description of weather, seldom a tide’s work was lost. Such was the
ardour and zeal of the heads of the several departments at the Rock,
including Mr Peter Logan, foreman builder, Mr Francis Watt, foreman
mill-wright, and Captain Wilson, landing-master, that it was on no
occasion necessary to address them, excepting in the way of precaution
and restraint. Under these circumstances, however, the writer not
unfrequently felt considerable anxiety, of which this day’s experience
will afford an example.

[Sidenote: Eleven of the artificers left on the Beacon.]

This morning, at a quarter past 8, the artificers were landed as usual,
and, after three hours and three quarters’ work, 5 stones were laid,
the greater part of this tide having been taken up in completing the
boring and trenailing of the stones formerly laid. At noon, the writer,
with the seamen and artificers, proceeded to the Tender, leaving on
the Beacon the joiners, and several of these who were troubled with
sea-sickness, among whom was Mr Logan, who remained with Mr Watt,
counting altogether eleven persons. During the first and middle parts
of these twenty-four hours, the wind was from the east, blowing what
seamen term “fresh breezes;” but, in the afternoon it shifted to
E.N.E., accompanied with so heavy a swell of sea, that the Smeaton and
Tender struck their topmasts, launched in their boltsprits, and “made
all snug” for a gale. At 4 P. M. the Smeaton was obliged to slip her
moorings, and passed the Tender, drifting before the wind, with only
the foresail set. In passing, Mr Pool hailed that he must run for the
Frith of Forth, to prevent the vessel from “riding under.”

[Sidenote: They encounter a severe gale.]

On board of the Tender the writer’s chief concern was about the
eleven men left upon the Beacon. Directions were accordingly given
that every thing about the vessel should be put in the best possible
state, to present as little resistance to the wind as possible, that
she might have the better chance of riding out the gale. Among these
preparations, the best bower cable was bent, so as to have a second
anchor in readiness, in case the mooring hawser should give way, that
every means might be used for keeping the vessel within sight of the
prisoners on the Beacon, and thereby keep them in as good spirits
as possible. From the same motive the boats were kept afloat, that
they might be less in fear of the vessel leaving her station. The
landing-master had, however, repeatedly expressed his anxiety for the
safety of the boats, and wished much to have them hoisted on board. At
7 P. M., one of the boats, as he feared, was unluckily filled with sea
from a wave breaking into her, and it was with great difficulty that
she could be baled out and got on board, with the loss of her oars,
rudder, and loose thwarts. Such was the motion of the ship, that in
taking this boat on board, her gunwale was stove in, and she otherwise
received considerable damage. Night approached, but it was still found
quite impossible to go near the Rock. Consulting, therefore, the safety
of the second boat, she also was hoisted on board of the Tender.

[Sidenote: The Tender is also very uncomfortable.]

At this time, the cabins of the Beacon were only partially covered,
and had neither been provided with bedding nor a proper fire-place,
while the stock of provisions was but slender. In these uncomfortable
circumstances, the people on the Beacon were left for the night, nor
was the situation of those on board of the Tender much better. The
rolling and pitching motion of the ship was excessive; and, excepting
to those who had been accustomed to a residence in the Floating-light,
it seemed quite intolerable. Nothing was heard but the hissing of the
winds and the creeking of the bulk-heads or partitions of the ship:
the night was therefore spent in the most unpleasant reflections upon
the condition of the people on the Beacon, especially in the prospect
of the Tender being driven from her moorings. But even in such a
case, it afforded some consolation that the stability of the fabric
was never doubted, and that the boats of the Floating-light were at
no great distance, and ready to render the people on the Rock the
earliest assistance which the weather would admit. The writer’s cabin
being in the sternmost part of the ship, which had what sailors term a
good entry, or was sharp built, the sea, as before noticed, struck her
counter with so much violence, that the water, with a rushing noise,
continually forced its way up the rudder case, lifted the valve of the
water-closet, and overran the cabin floor. In these circumstances,
daylight was eagerly looked for, and hailed with delight, as well by
those afloat, as by the artificers upon the Rock.

[Sidenote: Friday, 2d.]

[Sidenote: The Artificers are relieved.]

In the course of the night, the writer held repeated conversations with
the officer on watch, who reported that the weather continued much in
the same state, and that the barometer still indicated 29.20 inches.
At 6 A. M., the landing-master considered the weather to have somewhat
moderated; and from certain appearances of the sky, he was of opinion
that a change for the better would soon take place. He accordingly
proposed to attempt a landing at low-water, and either get the people
off the Rock, or at least ascertain what state they were in. At 9 A.
M., he left the vessel with a boat well manned, carrying with him a
supply of cooked provisions, and a tea-kettle full of mulled port
wine, for the people on the Beacon, who had not had any regular diet
for about 30 hours, while they were exposed, during that period, in
a great measure, both to the winds and the sprays of the sea. The
boat having succeeded in landing, she returned at 11 A. M. with the
artificers, who had got off with considerable difficulty; and who were
heartily welcomed by all on board.

[Sidenote: Mr Logan’s account of the state of the Beacon.]

Upon enquiry, it appeared that three of the stones last laid upon the
building had been partially lifted from their beds by the force of the
sea, and were now held only by the trenails, and that the cast-iron
sheer-crane represented in Plate XI., had again been thrown down and
completely broken. With regard to the Beacon, the sea, at high-water,
had lifted part of the mortar gallery or lowest floor, and washed
away all the lime casks and other moveable articles from it; but the
principal parts of this fabric had sustained no damage. On pressing
Messrs Logan and Watt, on the situation of things in the course of the
night, Mr Logan emphatically said: “That the Beacon had an _ill-fared
twist_ when the sea broke upon it at high water, but that they were
not very apprehensive of danger.” On enquiring as to how they spent
the night, it appeared that they had made shift to keep a small fire
burning, and, by means of some old sails, defended themselves pretty
well from the sea sprays.

[Sidenote: James Glen’s exertions.]

It was particularly mentioned that, by the exertions of _James Glen_,
one of the joiners, a number of articles were saved from being
washed off the mortar gallery. Glen was also very useful in keeping
up the spirits of the forlorn party. In the early part of life, he
had undergone many curious adventures at sea, which he now recounted
somewhat after the manner of the Tales of the Arabian Nights. When one
observed that the Beacon was a most comfortless lodging, Glen would
presently introduce some of his exploits and hardships, in comparison
with which, the state of things at the Beacon bore an aspect of comfort
and happiness. Looking to their slender stock of provisions, and their
perilous and uncertain chance of speedy relief, he would launch out
into an account of one of his expeditions in the North Sea, when the
vessel being much disabled in a storm, was driven before the wind
with the loss of almost all their provisions; and the ship being much
infested with rats, the crew hunted these vermin, with great eagerness,
to help their scanty allowance. By such means, Glen had the address to
make his companions, in some measure, satisfied, or at least passive,
with regard to their miserable prospects upon this half-tide rock in
the middle of the Ocean. This incident is noticed, more particularly,
to shew the effects of such a happy turn of mind, even under the most
distressing and ill-fated circumstances.

[Sidenote: State of matters after the gale.]

The people from the Beacon had no sooner got safely on board of the
Tender, and were provided for, than the writer went to the Rock with
the landing-master, carrying along with them five artificers, and
landed, though not without considerable difficulty; for, although the
wind had shifted to the westward, yet there was still a very heavy
swell of sea. The first object at the Rock was to relay the three
stones which had been lifted about three inches off their beds. On
examining the Beacon narrowly, it appeared to be all in good order,
excepting the mortar gallery, which, as before noticed, had been
lifted, and all the lighter articles that could not be stowed in the
upper apartments, carried into the sea; and two of the four legs of the
sheer-crane were broken in pieces. But the crane upon the building,
fortunately still kept its erect position. After fixing the three
stones and making these remarks, the boat after two hours’ absence
returned to the Tender.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: Tender obliged to leave her station.]

The wind was at N.W. to-day, so that the vessel rode with her stern
towards the Rock; and as it came to blow excessively hard, there was
some danger, in the event of any thing giving way, that she might drift
upon the Rock. Accordingly, Mr Taylor, who commanded the Tender, came
into the writer’s cabin between 1 and 2 o’clock this morning, and,
after some consultation, it was thought advisable to slip the hawser,
and to stand with the ship towards the land. It then blew so fresh,
that though the sails were double reefed when the vessel got under way,
it was still found necessary to take in a third reef in the mainsail,
and at 6 A. M. she got into the harbour of Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 4th.]

At this time the sea was in such a state of agitation with the shifting
and violence of the winds, that apprehensions were entertained about
the safety of the sloop Smeaton, as she was deeply laden when she
left her moorings, especially as her cargo was quite invaluable to
the progress of the works of this season. At 5 o’clock this morning,
however, Mr Pool made his appearance with the vessel, and got safely
into the harbour of Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Thursday 8th.]

[Sidenote: Progress of the works at Arbroath.]

In the work-yard, the hewing or cutting of the several courses went on
with great alacrity: the freestone masons were now at work as high as
the Twentieth and Twenty-first courses, and the granite masons had
completed the Sixteenth course, which was now lying on the platform,
marked and ready for shipment. A great stock of lime, in a pounded
state, had been prepared, and a quantity of clean sharp sand collected,
which were put up in separate casks. A large supply of oaken trenails
and wedges was also made up in bundles, each containing twenty-four
trenails, and a like number of pairs of wedges. The hewing of the
stones, and the preparation of the building materials, were placed
under the charge of Mr David Logan, as clerk of works; and the writing
of the books, disbursement of cash, and the dispatch of the vessels
with the materials, provisions and necessaries for the Rock, formed the
department of Mr Lachlan Kennedy, engineer’s clerk.

[Sidenote: Friday 9th.]

[Sidenote: 4 Stones are laid.]

The Tender and Smeaton having remained in port till last evening, both
vessels sailed for the Rock, and reached their moorings at 5 o’clock
A. M. The boats were immediately hoisted out, when the mill-wrights,
joiners and smiths, ten in number, landed on the Beacon, with their
foreman, and proceeded to the fitting up of the cabins. Notwithstanding
the hazardous situation upon the Beacon in which these artificers had
lately been placed, Mr Watt, with his principal assistant James Glen,
were not to be moved with trifles, and the work, as formerly, was
continued by the joiners’ squad of artificers during the whole day,
trusting to the eventual prospect of their being taken off by the boats
at night. At low-water, or about 3 P. M., Mr Peter Logan landed, with
the sixteen artificers who composed the builders’ squad, and the whole
left it again at 8 P. M. The three stones which had been re-laid on
the 2d of this month, having had the pozzolano mortar washed out by
the heavy sea, before it had time to fix, it was found necessary to
lift again, and lay them a third time. In the late gales, the casks
of lime and cement left on the Beacon having been washed off by the
sea, an entirely new stock was required. The praams were accordingly
employed in delivering the Smeaton and landing a supply of these
articles, together with four blocks of stone. The operations of the
building-artificers continued only three hours to-day, and no more than
four additional stones were laid.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 10th.]

[Sidenote: Patriot obliged to slip her moorings.]

The Patriot having now undergone a complete repair, she was loaded with
stones for the first time, and the writer took a passage in her to the
Bell Rock, when he had the pleasure of finding that she wrought or
sailed extremely well. She was made fast to her moorings at 6 A. M.,
but only one praam-load had been discharged from her to-day, when the
wind came suddenly from the N.E., and it was found necessary to let
slip her moorings at 6 P. M., when she made sail for the Frith of Forth.

[Sidenote: 10 Stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Artificers divided into squads.]

Notwithstanding the boisterous state of the weather, the artificers
were enabled to continue their visits to the Rock, and landed this
morning at 5. At this time they counted twenty-six, and were, as
formerly, divided into two squads; the mill-wrights, joiners, and
smiths, ten in number, wrought at the fitting up the Railways while
the Rock was accessible, and when it was covered with the tide, they
were employed in fitting up the Beacon-house. The operations of the
builders were as yet wholly confined to low-water work. Both squads
were attended, and occasionally assisted, by the landing-master’s crew
of about twelve sailors, who were always ready for every sort of work.
Including the low-water periods of morning and evening tides the whole
had six hours’ and a quarter’s work to-day, when ten stones were laid.
But those employed at the Beacon did not leave off till half-past 9 P.
M., having been sixteen hours upon the Rock, when all hands returned to
the Tender; and, owing to the bad state of the weather, the boats were
immediately hoisted on board.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: No landing on the Rock to-day.]

The wind was still from the N.E., accompanied with so heavy a swell of
sea, that it was found impossible to land this morning. At 12 noon,
all hands, forty-two in number, were assembled on deck, when prayers
were read as usual. At 5 P. M., the weather being somewhat more
moderate, the boats left the vessel with the artificers. But on a more
narrow inspection of the state of the sea upon the Rock, it was found
impracticable to effect a landing, and they returned to the Tender,
after having been about an hour absent. This evening, the Light-house
Yacht came to the Bell Rock from her first voyage to the Northern
Light-houses for the season, but there was too much sea for making
her fast to any of the moorings. Captain Calder, after ascertaining
that all was well, laid the Yacht to for the night, and kept the
Floating-light in view.

[Sidenote: Monday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: 17 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Ships belonging to the service.]

The wind having fortunately shifted to the S.W., in the course of the
night, the weather became more moderate, and at a quarter past 6 the
artificers landed. Including both tides, the builders had seven hours’
work to-day, and laid seventeen stones, those employed at the Beacon
continuing at work throughout the day. The Smeaton having arrived from
Arbroath with another cargo of stones, and the Patriot from Largo Bay,
in the Frith of Forth, where she had run for shelter, the Rock had now
a very busy appearance, the following vessels belonging to the service
being at their respective moorings, viz. the Light-house Yacht; the
Sir Joseph Banks Tender; the Sloops Smeaton and Patriot, besides the
Hedderwick and Fernie decked Praam-boats; and at the distance of about
two miles and a half, the Floating-light was stationed as represented
in Plate V.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 13th.]

[Sidenote: 12 stones laid.]

The artificers landed this morning at the Rock, at a quarter past
6, and had three hours’ and a half’s work; and in the evening, the
builders again returned at 7 o’clock, and remained three hours and a
quarter, when the whole left the Rock. In the course of this day twelve
stones were laid, which discharged the Patriot, and she returned to
Arbroath for another cargo.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: 21 stones laid.]

At 7 this morning, the whole of the artificers land, and have four
hours and a quarter of low-water work, when 21 stones are laid. In the
evening, they land again at half-past 6, and have three hours’ and
three quarter’s work in completing the boring and trenailing of the
stones of the course which had already been built. The landing-master’s
crew discharged the Smeaton’s cargo to-day, consisting of twenty-six
blocks, together with four casks of pozzolano, four casks of lime, four
casks of sand, one cask of cement, three bundles of oaken trenails, and
six bundles of wedges; and at 8 o’clock P. M. she sailed for Arbroath.
The cargo of the Smeaton was partly landed upon the Rock; but,
calculating upon the settled appearance of the weather, the greater
part of it kept on board of the praams at their moorings.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 15th.]

[Sidenote: 18 stones laid.]

At a quarter from 7 o’clock this morning the artificers landed, and
having had five hours’ and a quarter’s work, eight stones were laid,
and the remainder of the tide was occupied in boring and trenailing.
In the evening, at half-past 6, they again landed and laid eighteen
stones, having had five hours’ and a half’s work. The Patriot arrived
from Arbroath with another cargo, consisting of thirty-nine blocks
of stone, four casks of pozzolano, four casks of lime, four casks of
sand, four bundles of wedges, and four bundles of trenails. There were
thirty-six blocks of stone landed to-day on the Rock, with the above
materials. The stones, when landed, were laid on the south-west side of
the building till those previously built were trenailed; and the lime,
&c. were carried up to the mortar-gallery on the Beacon. The three
remaining stones of this cargo were left on board of one of the praams
at her moorings, and the Patriot thus discharged, again sailed for
Arbroath at 9 P. M. to load another cargo.

[Sidenote: Friday, 16th.]

[Sidenote: 24 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Great exertions used in supplying materials.]

This morning, at a quarter past 7, the artificers landed on the Rock,
and had an excellent tide’s work, which continued for five hours and
a quarter, when 24 stones of the Patriot’s last cargo were laid.
Landing again at half-past 8 in the evening, they continued at work an
hour and a quarter, when four stones were laid; and at 10 o’clock all
hands left the Rock; the joiners, smiths, and such of the masons as
were inclined, having been, as usual, left all day on the Beacon, had
their victuals sent to them from the Tender. In the present favourable
state of the weather, through the exertions of Mr Lachlan Kennedy,
in dispatching the vessels, both by night and day, and also by the
activity of Captains Pool of the Smeaton, and Macdonald of the Patriot,
the work was largely and regularly supplied with building materials.
The Smeaton having returned with a cargo from Arbroath, was made fast
to her moorings at 11 this morning; but, as the wind blew strongly from
the westward, it was found impracticable to land any stones to-day,
without the greatest risk of injuring the materials. About mid-day,
after the landing-master’s crew had taken the artificers on board of
the Tender, they towed the Fernie praam-boat alongside of the Smeaton,
and endeavoured to load her, but it was found impracticable; and, after
three stones had been laid on the praam’s deck, any further attempt was
given up.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: 7 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Artificers left all night on the Beacon.]

At 8 A. M., the artificers and sailors, forty-five in number, landed
on the Rock, and, after four hours’ work, seven stones were laid.
The remainder of this tide, from the threatening appearance of the
weather, was occupied in trenailing, and making all things as secure as
possible. At 12 noon, the Rock and Building were again overflowed, when
the masons and seamen went on board of the Tender, but Mr Watt, with
his squad of ten men, remained on the Beacon throughout the day. As it
blew fresh from the N.W. in the evening, it was found impracticable
either to land the building-artificers, or to take the artificers off
the Beacon, and they were accordingly left there all night, but in
circumstances very different from those of the 1st of this month. The
house being now in a more complete state, was provided with bedding,
and they spent the night pretty well; though they complained of having
been much disturbed at the time of high-water, by the shaking and
tremulous motion of their house, and by the plashing noise of the sea
upon the mortar gallery. Here James Glen’s versatile powers were again
at work, in cheering up those who seemed to be alarmed, and in securing
every thing as far as possible. On this occasion, he had only to recall
to the recollections of some of them the former night which they had
spent on the Beacon, the wind and sea being then much higher, and their
habitation in a far less comfortable state.

[Sidenote: Smeaton and Patriot slip their moorings.]

The Patriot came to the Rock this morning from Arbroath, loaded chiefly
with timber and apparatus for the works of the Beacon. At 5 A. M.,
Captain Wilson, the landing-master, and his crew, made a second attempt
to deliver the Smeaton of her cargo, but were only enabled to get
out other five stones, with which the Fernie praam was towed to her
moorings, without being able to land upon the Rock. The wind still
continuing to blow fresh from the N.W., at 5 P. M., the writer caused
a signal to be made from the Tender for the Smeaton and Patriot to let
slip their moorings, when they ran for Lunan Bay, an anchorage on the
east side of the Redhead. Those on board of the Tender spent but a very
rough night, and, perhaps, slept less soundly than their companions on
the Beacon, especially as the wind was at N.W., which caused the vessel
to ride with her stern towards the Bell Rock; so that, in the event of
any thing giving way, she could hardly have escaped being stranded upon

[Sidenote: Sunday, 18th.]

[Sidenote: 16 stones laid.]

The weather having moderated to-day, the wind shifted to the westward.
At a quarter past 9 A. M., the artificers landed from the Tender, and
had the pleasure to find their friends who had been left on the Rock
quite hearty, alleging that the Beacon was the preferable quarters of
the two. The builders laid 16 stones in four hours and a half, when
the whole returned on board of the Tender; and at 3 P. M. all hands,
counting fifty-four, assembled upon deck to prayers. In the evening,
at 9, the artificers again landed, and left off work at a quarter from
12 o’clock at night, having been employed in boring, trenailing, and
wedging the stones which had been built in the morning.

[Sidenote: Monday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: Remarkable breach of sea upon the Rock.]

The wind was at N.E. to-day, with gentle breezes, but accompanied
by the heaviest swell of sea which had yet been observed at the
Bell Rock. It was what seamen term a Ground Swell, and, although
the landing-master’s crew were employed alongside of the Smeaton,
in loading the praams, the surface of the water being comparatively
smooth, yet the breach upon the Rock was truly surprising. It is when
the sea is in this state,--being the result no doubt of a distant
gale of wind,--that the sprays conducted by a building, rise to such a
height as is represented in the Vignette of Smeaton’s Narrative of the
Edystone Light-house. In the forenoon, the writer, accompanied by the
landing-master, in a well manned boat, went off to observe the effect
of the breach of the sea upon the building and apparatus. The work had
now attained the height of about 8 feet, on which one of the cranes was
erected, the top of which was about 30 feet above the low-water mark.
In the course of this tide, the sea, at the meeting of the waves round
the building, was observed to rise in the most beautiful conical jets,
of about 30 or 40 feet in diameter at the base, to the height of 10
or 15 feet above the crane. Between these seas, but more particularly
at low-water, it was observed with a telescope, that some of the last
laid stones had been partially lifted; but others, which had not been
trenailed, it was feared had been washed off the building.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: 3 stones in danger of being washed away.]

At 11 A. M., the boats landed, with much difficulty to-day, in order to
ascertain the state of the building and apparatus. On examination it
was happily found, that none of the stones were lost, and that those
observed yesterday to have been lifted off their beds, were the three
which had not been trenailed, but which being fortunately confined
by two of the jumpers or boring-irons left in the trenail holes of
the lower course, were thus held in their places. After laying these
stones, the remainder of this tide, which lasted for three hours and a
quarter, was occupied in grouting or filling the perpendicular joints,
and plastering them over with Parker’s Roman cement, to preserve the
pozzolano mortar. At this period, it not only happened to be rough
weather, but the building being now at that height, relatively to the
tides, which seamen term “Between wind and water,” the upper part of
the work was exposed to the wash of every wave towards high-water.
It was, therefore, often found necessary to repeat the grouting of
the same joints with mortar several times. As the evening tide fell
wholly under night, the building artificers did not land; but the squad
employed at the Beacon and Railways remained at the Rock throughout the
day, and were, indeed, only restrained from taking up their quarters
also for the night, in consequence of a positive injunction which the
writer thought it prudent to enforce, until the Beacon should be in a
more habitable state.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: 22 stones laid.]

The artificers employed at the Beacon landed upon it this morning
at 7 o’clock; and, at a quarter past 11, the builders landed, and
continued at work till 4 P. M., having had five hours’ and a quarter’s
work, when 22 stones were laid. The landing-master’s crew, at the same
time, transported 19 blocks to the Rock with the praam-boats, which
completely discharged the Smeaton of her cargo of 32 stones, four
casks of pozzolano, and a similar quantity of cement, lime, and sand,
with four bundles of trenails, and the like number of wedges, when she
immediately left her moorings.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Great waste of mortar.]

The artificers landed upon the Rock this morning at half-past 11, and,
from the advanced state of the building, they were enabled to continue
at work for six hours and a half, being the longest tide’s work which
had yet been got upon the Rock by the building artificers. During this
tide only four stones were laid, but the time was otherwise occupied
in boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting the joints of the stones
last built. From the great waste of mortar, owing to the wash of the
sea, in the present stage of the building, the usual proportions of
its ingredients were not found sufficient for the courses in hand; and
having no conveniency for keeping more than a few casks on the Beacon,
while it was an object to have the lime always fresh, it was found
necessary to dispatch a boat to-day express to Arbroath, for additional
supplies of pozzolano, lime and sand.

[Sidenote: Friday, 23d.]

The work commenced at 12 noon, and continued six hours and a quarter;
but, owing to the roughness of the weather, no stones were laid
to-day, as, notwithstanding every precaution in pointing the joints
with cement, the mortar was continually washed away. This tide was,
therefore, occupied in the operation of grouting, and securing the
mortar with tow, loaded with pieces of iron laid horizontally along
such of the joints as were accessible to this, which had the effect
of preserving them until the cement dried sufficiently to defend it
against the wash of the sea.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: 57 Stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Cooking commenced on the Beacon.]

Mr Peter Logan, the foreman builder, and his squad, twenty-one in
number, landed this morning at 3 o’clock, and continued at work
four hours and a quarter, and, after laying 17 stones, returned to
the Tender. At 6 A. M., Mr Francis Watt, and his squad of twelve
men, landed, and proceeded with their respective operations at the
Beacon and Railways, and were left on the Rock during the whole day,
without the necessity of having any communication with the Tender,
the kitchen of the Beacon-house being now fitted up. It was to-day
also, that Peter Fortune,--a most obliging and well known character
in the Light-house service,--was removed from the Tender to the
Beacon, as cook and steward, with a stock of provisions as ample as
his limited store-room would admit. At 2 P. M. the building-artificers
again landed, and continued at work till a quarter past 8, when 40 of
the stones, formerly landed, were now laid, making no fewer than 57
blocks which had been built to-day in the course of both tides. The
weather being extremely fine, with light airs of wind from the S.E.,
the landing-master’s crew discharged the Patriot into the praam-boats,
which were then towed to their moorings, as the stones could not at
this time be received at the Rock.

[Sidenote: Situation of the Mortar-makers and smiths.]

When as many stones were built as comprised this day’s work, the
demand for mortar was proportionally encreased, and the task of the
mortar-makers on these occasions was both laborious and severe. This
operation was chiefly performed by John Watt,--a strong active quarrier
by profession,--who was a perfect character in his way, and extremely
zealous in his department. While the operations of the mortar-makers
continued, the forge upon their gallery was not generally in use;
but, as the working-hours of the builders extended with the height
of the building, the forge could not be so long wanted, and then
a sad confusion often ensued upon the circumscribed floor of the
mortar-gallery, as the operations of Watt and his assistants trenched
greatly upon those of the smiths. The casks with the ingredients for
the mortar, consisting of pozzolano, lime, and sand, were laid to hand
by the sailors. These materials were lifted in spadefulls, and thrown
into the cast-iron mortar tubs, represented in Plate X. Fig. 12., where
they were beat with an iron-shod pestle, to a consistency suitable to
the respective purposes of the work. Under these circumstances, the
boundary of the smiths was much circumscribed, and they were personally
annoyed, especially in blowy weather, with the dust of the lime in its
powdered state. The mortar-makers, on the other hand, were often not a
little distressed with the heat of the fire and the sparks elicited on
the anvil, and not unaptly complained that they were placed between the
“Devil and the Deep-sea.”

[Sidenote: Sunday, 25th.]

[Sidenote: 27 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Rope-ladder distended.]

The work being now about 10 feet in height, admitted of a Rope-ladder
being distended between the Beacon and the Building, as represented
in Plate IX. By this “Jacob’s-Ladder,” as the seamen termed it,
a communication was kept up with the Beacon, while the Rock was
considerably under water. One end of it being furnished with
tackle-blocks, was fixed to the beams of the Beacon, at the level
of the mortar-gallery, while the further end was connected with
the Upper-course of the building by means of two Lewis-bats, which
were lifted from course to course as the work advanced. In the same
manner, a rope furnished with a travelling-pulley, was distended,
for the purpose of transporting the mortar-buckets, and other light
articles, between the Beacon and the building, which also proved a
great conveniency to the work. At this period the rope-ladder, and
tackle for the mortar, had a descent from the Beacon to the building;
by and by they were on a level; and, towards the end of the season,
when the solid part had attained its full height, the ascent was
from the mortar-gallery to the building; as will be understood by
examining the second year’s work, as shewn in the Plate above alluded
to, and when viewed in connection with the progress of the work. The
building-artificers were accordingly enabled to land this morning at
3 A. M., and to continue at work five hours and a quarter, when 27
stones were laid of the Seventh course. The praam-boats were brought
from their moorings, where they lay loaded with 43 stones, besides a
supply of pozzolano, lime, sand, cement, trenails, and wedges. The
Smeaton having made a trip ashore for a supply of the castings for the
western Reach of the Railway, she discharged 15 tons of cast-iron work,
and returned to Arbroath for a cargo of stones. At 12 noon, all hands,
fifty-seven in number, being collected upon the deck of the Tender,
prayers were read as usual. At three quarters past 2 o’clock P. M.,
the building-artificers again landed, and had five hours’ and three
quarters’ work, at boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting the stones
laid during the two previous tides, which completed the Seventh course
of the building.

[Sidenote: Monday, 26th.]

[Sidenote: 21 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Builders stopped by a simple mistake.]

The weather still continuing to be very favourable for the operations,
the building-artificers landed on the Rock at a quarter past 3 A.
M., and continued at work five hours and a half, when 21 stones were
laid. In the course of this tide, it was discovered that the Patriot
had by mistake carried off the trainer or gauge-rule to be used for
regulating the position of the stones in building the Eighth course,
which, for a time, stopped the progress of building. A fast rowing
boat was dispatched to Arbroath for this useful implement, a diagram
of which will be seen in Plate X. In the mean time, the remainder of
the landing-master’s crew were employed in laying the cast-iron work in
order upon the Rock, so as to be at hand in the course of fitting up
the Railways. In the evening, at a quarter past 4 P. M., the artificers
landed, and had five hours and a half at boring, trenailing, wedging,
and grouting the last laid course of the building.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 27th.]

[Sidenote: 33 stones laid, and 66 landed.]

The Joiners’ squad of artificers, with Mr Fortune, their cook and
steward, landed this morning at 5 A. M. for the day, and the Builders’
squad continued on the Rock till a quarter past 10. They again landed,
at half-past 4, and returned on board of the Tender with all hands,
at 10 P. M. The express-boat came from Arbroath with the trainer this
forenoon: 33 stones were laid to-day, and the weather being extremely
fine the landing-master’s crew delivered no fewer than 66 blocks at the

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 28th.]

[Sidenote: 32 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Artificers now at work while the Rock is under water.]

As the work was daily getting higher, the artificers landed on the
Beacon, and began this morning at a quarter before 6 o’clock, having
passed along the rope-ladder, distended between it and the Building,
while the Rock was yet under water, when the builders got five hours
and a quarter’s work. In the evening, they landed again at 6 o’clock,
and remained till 11. In the course of this day 32 stones were laid,
but, owing to the wind blowing fresh from N.NE., the praams could not
approach the eastern creek, and the western reach of Railway being yet
unfinished, no materials were landed. The Joiners’ squad, as usual,
remained all day on the Rock, and were enabled to make great progress
with the lodging part of the Beacon or “Hurricane-house,” as the seamen
termed it.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 29th.]

[Sidenote: 25 stones laid, and 50 landed.]

The wind was still in the N.E., but being more moderate, the work, in
all its departments, proceeded with great spirit; 50 blocks of stone
were accordingly landed to-day, with the necessary proportions of
lime and other materials. At half-past 6, the whole of the artificers
landed, and remained till half-past 11, having been five hours on the
Rock. The builders again landed at 6 P. M.; and at midnight, all hands
left the Rock. The builders having to-day been no less than ten hours
and a half at work, had laid 25 stones. The roughness of the weather
yesterday washed a great part of the mortar out of the joints, and this
morning’s tide was chiefly occupied in grouting and pointing the Eighth
course, which being closed, the work was brought to the height of about
11 feet above the lower bed of the Foundation-stone.

[Sidenote: Friday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: 18 stones are laid.]

[Sidenote: Michael Wishart meets with a serious accident.]

The artificers landed on the Rock this morning at a quarter past 6, and
remained at work five hours. The cooking apparatus being now in full
operation, all hands had breakfast on the Beacon at the usual hour,
and remained there throughout the day. The crane upon the building had
to be raised to-day from the Eighth to the Ninth course, an operation
which now required all the strength that could be mustered for working
the guy-tackles; for, as the top of the crane was at this time about
35 feet above the Rock, it became much more unmanageable. This will
be better understood by examining the apparatus in Plate IX., and
comparing the appearance of the crane-tackle of the second year’s work
with that of the first. In order, to give an additional purchase in
tightening the tackle, one of the blocks of stone was suspended at the
end of the moveable-beam of the crane, which, by adding greatly to
the purchase or weight, tended to slacken the guys in the direction
to which the beam with the stone was pointed, and thereby enabled the
artificers more easily to brace them one after another. While the beam
was thus loaded, and in the act of swinging round from one guy to
another, a great strain was suddenly brought upon the opposite tackle,
with the end of which the artificers had very improperly neglected to
take a turn round some stationary object, which would have given them
the complete command of the tackle. Owing to this simple omission, the
crane, with the large stone at the end of the beam, got a preponderancy
to one side, and the tackle alluded to having _rended_, the crane fell
upon the building with a terrible crash. The surrounding artificers
immediately flew in every direction to get out of its way; but Michael
Wishart, the principal builder, having unluckily stumbled upon one
of the uncut trenails, fell upon his back. His body fortunately got
between the moveable-beam and the upright shaft of the crane, and
was thus saved; but his feet got entangled with the wheels of the
crane, and were severely injured. Wishart being a robust young man,
endured his misfortune with wonderful firmness: he was laid upon one
of the narrow framed beds of the Beacon, and dispatched in a boat to
the Tender; where the writer was when this accident happened, not a
little alarmed, on missing the crane from the top of the building, and
at the same time seeing a boat rowing towards the vessel with great
speed. When the boat came alongside with poor Wishart stretched upon a
bed, covered with blankets, a moment of great anxiety followed, which
was, however, much relieved, when, on stepping into the boat, he was
accosted by Wishart, though in a feeble voice, and with an aspect pale
as death, from excessive bleeding. Directions having been immediately
given to the coxwain to apply to Mr Kennedy at the work-yard, to
procure the best surgical aid, the boat was sent off without delay to
Arbroath. The writer then landed at the Rock, when the crane was in a
very short time got into its place, and again put in a working state.
The builders commenced work with it at 7 o’clock in the evening, and
continued till midnight, and in the course of this day 18 stones were
laid. Robert Selkirk was appointed by Mr Logan to succeed Wishart, as
principal builder.

[Sidenote: 1809, July.]

[Sidenote: Saturday, 1st.]

[Sidenote: Artificers have no less than ten hours’ work, and lay 59

The artificers landed this morning at half-past 7, and as the building
was gradually rising out of the reach of the tide, the work was
continued no less than six hours and a half at this time, being the
longest tide’s work which the builders had hitherto had. They again
landed at half-past 7 in the evening, and did not leave off till
midnight, having, to-day, had ten hours and a half’s work, when no
fewer than 59 blocks of stone were built; 56 of which were landed on
the Rock to-day, being the entire cargo of the Patriot, including
six casks of pozzolano, and a similar quantity of lime and sand;
besides twenty parcels containing 200 trenails and 200 pairs of
wedges; together with six sacks of moss (_hypnum_), two bales of green
woollen-cloth, a bale of red binding tape, with nails, &c. for lining
the cabins of the Beacon-house.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 2d.]

[Sidenote: The Writer visits the Carr Rock. Some of the vessels slip
their moorings.]

After a trip which he had taken in the Light-house Yacht to examine
the Carr Rock, with a view to the erection of a Beacon, as described
in the Introduction of this work, page 53., the writer landed on the
Bell Rock this evening. He found that the artificers had commenced
work at a quarter from 8 o’clock A. M., and continued for seven hours
and a quarter, when seven blocks of stone were laid, with which the
Ninth course of the building was completed. The remainder of this long
tide’s-work was occupied in boring trenail holes, driving trenails
and wedges, and in filling the perpendicular joints of the course
with thin mortar, mixed up into that consistency which is technically
termed Grout. Having again landed in the evening, the same operation
was continued from 8 till 11 o’clock P. M.; but the wind having shifted
from south to E.NE., it blew so fresh that the torches could not be
kept burning, being now more exposed, and without the shelter which
the foundation-pit formerly afforded. The work was, therefore, obliged
to be dropt, before the tide had overflowed the Rock. From the state
of the weather, it was also judged necessary to give directions to the
landing-master to employ his crew in removing the iron-jumpers and
other implements to the Beacon; and to remove every encumbrance from
the boats, so as to lighten them as much as possible, and fit them the
better for carrying the artificers, thirty-two in number. At midnight,
all hands left the Rock in four boats, two of which belonged to the
Tender, one to the Light-house Yacht, and one to the Smeaton; and,
after much difficulty, they reached their respective vessels. The Yacht
and Smeaton then slipped their moorings, and proceeded for Arbroath, as
they rode very hard, but the Tender kept her position.

[Sidenote: Monday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: No landing on the Rock to-day.]

The wind still continued to blow so fresh, that no landing could be
made to-day on the Rock. As the Tender’s stock of provisions was
getting low, a considerable effort was made by the Patriot, which had
come from Arbroath with supplies, to prevent the necessity of her
leaving her moorings. After several vain attempts however, the Patriot
was obliged to bear away for the Frith of Forth to wait a change of

[Sidenote: Michael Wishart is recovering.]

The writer having come to Arbroath with the Yacht, had an opportunity
of visiting Michael Wishart, the artificer who had met with so severe
an accident at the Rock on the 30th ult., and had the pleasure to find
him in a state of recovery. From Dr Stevenson’s account, under whose
charge he had been placed, hopes were entertained that amputation
would not be necessary, as his patient still kept free of fever or
any appearance of mortification; and Wishart expressed a hope that he
might, at least, be ultimately capable of keeping the light at the Bell
Rock, as it was not now likely that he would assist farther in building
the house.

[Sidenote: Progress of the Works at Arbroath.]

In the work-yard, the operations were going on as usual, under the
direction of Mr David Logan, and the stone-cutters were now working at
the Twenty-third course. The Twentieth course being nearly finished, it
was partly laid on the platform, and ready to be fitted, marked, and
numbered for shipping to the Bell Rock. Dispatch was also making in the
joiners’ shop where Mr James Slight, was preparing the moulds for the
succeeding courses, diagrams of which will be seen in Plate X.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 4th.]

The Tender had kept her station at the Rock. Though the wind was still
at N.E., it had abated a little, and the artificers landed at 11 A.
M., to the number of twenty-four, and were employed for three hours in
completing the trenailing of the Ninth course. At 3 P. M., the building
artificers, fourteen in number, left the Rock, and went on board of
the Tender, but the joiners and smiths remained upon the Beacon till
half-past 9 P. M., when they also returned on board of the vessel.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 5th.]

[Sidenote: 19 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Joiners left on the Beacon.]

The wind having shifted to the east, and the weather being moderate,
the artificers landed at half-past 11 this forenoon, when 19 stones
were laid after four hours work. At 8 P. M. the boats again left the
vessel, and made an attempt to land on the Rock, but it was found
impracticable, there being then too much sea. The joiners’ squad were
therefore left on the Beacon all night.

[Sidenote: Thursday 6th.]

[Sidenote: 16 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Joiners resolve to remain on the Beacon.]

The building artificers having landed at a quarter past 12 to-day, 16
stones were laid, when they again left the Rock at a quarter past 4,
having been four hours at work. The weather having a very unfavourable
appearance, the landing-master expressed a wish to bring all hands
with him; but the Joiners’ squad, with Mr Fortune their cook, had
now resolved to continue their quarters on the Beacon-house, instead
of having “the continual plague of boating;” and being now better
provided with necessaries, they felt much more at ease. The boats
were now less crowded, and this arrangement was a great relief to the
landing-master’s crew. The writer was at Arbroath when the Beacon was
thus taken possession of; and though he felt no uneasiness as to its
permanency in withstanding the effects of the sea, yet he was not
without scruples about the danger of accidental fire, from the chips
of wood which unavoidably encumbered the place while the joiners were
at work. Considering, therefore, the awful circumstances to those
inhabiting the Beacon under such a possible calamity, together with
its disastrous consequences to the work, it became a matter of much
solicitude to guard against such a misfortune.

[Sidenote: Favourable to the possession of the Light-house.]

This practical expression of the opinion of the mill-wrights, joiners
and smiths, with regard to the safety of the Beacon, was nevertheless
highly satisfactory to the writer, as it shewed a degree of confidence
in this temporary erection, which left no doubt as to its utility
in the future operations. It was also an excellent prelude to the
inhabitation of the Light-house itself when completed, as some were
even doubtful if light-keepers would be found disposed to take up
their residence permanently upon a rock, which, every tide, was sunk
under water to the depth of from 10 to 16 feet, of which no instance
had hitherto occurred, as the First entire course of the Edystone
Light-house is understood to have been on a level with high-water mark.

[Sidenote: Friday, 7th.]

[Sidenote: 15 stones laid.]

The wind having shifted to the S.E. to-day, with easy weather, the
Patriot returned from Largo Bay to her moorings, when the praam-boats
discharged 19 stones of her cargo, and landed them on the Rock. The
artificers landed at 10 A. M. and remained at work no less than nine
hours and a half, when 15 stones of the Tenth course were laid. The
builders then went on board of the Tender, leaving the mill-wrights,
joiners and smiths, in possession of the Beacon-house.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: 11 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: The Tide, for the first time, does not overflow the

The builders landed to-day at a quarter past 12 noon, and remained
seven hours and three quarters, when they laid 11 blocks, while the
landing-master’s crew transported 46 stones to the Rock. The tide’s
work was now so much lengthened, that time was afforded for boring the
trenail holes into the course below, fixing the trenails and wedges,
and grouting up the perpendicular joints with pozzolano mortar, in
a more deliberate manner than when the work was lower in the water.
It was remarked to-day, with no small demonstration of joy, that the
tide--being neap--did not, for the first time, overflow the building
at high-water. Flags were accordingly hoisted, on the Beacon-house,
and crane on the top of the Building, which were repeated from the
Floating-light, Light-house Yacht, Tender, Smeaton, Patriot, and the
two Praams. A salute of three guns was also fired from the Yacht at
high-water, when all the artificers being collected on the top of the
building, three cheers were given, in testimony of this important
circumstance. A glass of rum was then served out to all hands on the
Rock, and on board of the respective ships.

[Sidenote: Number of Joiners reduced. Balance Crane begun.]

Having thus got the Light-house above the sea-level in ordinary
neap-tides, and the Beacon into a habitable state, while the Railway
operations were confined to the western reach, it was now found
expedient to diminish the number of mill-wrights and joiners at
the Rock. At this period, the writer went to Edinburgh to attend a
general meeting of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses,
and to report the advanced state of the works,--news which was
received with the greatest satisfaction by the Board. He also
visited the Shotts Iron-works, and took measures for the immediate
construction of a Crane, upon a new principle. This had occupied his
attention, along with the general scheme of the work. But, since the
unfortunate accident which happened to Wishart, by the fall of the
Moveable-beam-crane, it had became more apparently necessary, as the
increasing height of this machine rendered the guy-tackles too _taunt_,
to use a sailor’s expression for any thing that is high, or when the
ropes, which support a spar or mast, form too small an angle at the
top. Instead of these unmanageable tackles, the upright shaft of the
new crane was to be kept in an erect position by a balance-weight
acting upon the opposite end of the loaded working-beam, which was
thus to be kept in a state of equilibrium. As Mr Watt, foreman of the
Beacon and Railway works, could now be spared from the Rock for a time,
he was sent to Shotts to get the patterns made for this machine, and
other implements connected with the progress of the higher parts of the
building; from whence the castings were sent to Edinburgh to be fitted

[Sidenote: Sunday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: Tenth course completed.]

On the writer’s return to the Bell Rock to-day, it appeared from the
notes of the foreman builder, and log-book of the landing-master, that
the work had made very good progress, of which the building itself bore
testimony, being now about 13 feet in height. The wind was at N.E.
this morning, and blowed so fresh that a landing could not be made
till a quarter past 4 o’clock P. M., when the closing-stone of the
Tenth course was laid, after three hours and a quarter’s work; but the
landing-master’s crew could not approach the Rock with the praam-boats.

[Sidenote: Monday, 10th.]

Twenty of the artificers landed this morning at half-past 5, and
continued at work till half-past 7. Again, in the evening, the work was
resumed at 6, and continued till a quarter from 9. The artificers were
employed to-day in dressing off and completing the last laid course.
Still the wind being from the N.E., accompanied with a heavy sea, the
praams could not approach the Rock, and consequently no materials were

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: 31 stones laid, and numerous articles landed.]

The wind having shifted to the westward, the sea was greatly run
down; and the landing-master’s crew being early at work this morning,
transported no fewer than 65 blocks to the Rock in the course of the
day. At 6 A. M. the artificers landed, when 19 stones of the Eleventh
course were laid. They again landed at 4 P. M. and laid 22, making
altogether nine hours and a quarter upon the Rock to-day, when 31
stones were built. The Patriot had left Arbroath last night, and got
to the Rock this morning with 43 pieces of stone, twelve bundles
containing 396 wedges, five bundles containing 165 trenails, three
casks of cement, six casks of pozzolano, six casks of lime, six casks
of sand, besides provisions for the use of the Beacon-house and Tender,
viz. five hogsheads of water, five bags of coals, three casks of beef,
five bags of biscuit, one cask of oatmeal, one firkin of butter, one
cask of flour, one cask of pot barley, with salt and vegetables.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: 37 stones laid.]

At a quarter past 5 this morning, the artificers, 21 in number, landed,
and remained eight hours on the Rock, when 21 stones were laid. They
landed again in the afternoon at half-past 3, and remained till 9 P.
M., when 16 stones were laid. The landing-master’s crew transported
three stones to the Rock to-day, which completed the Eleventh course.
The Smeaton arrived from Leith this forenoon, with 53 casks of
pozzolano earth, 39 of which were stowed on board of the Tender to be
at hand: the Smeaton then proceeded with the remainder to Arbroath,
where she loaded stones for the Rock.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 13th.]

[Sidenote: 29 stones laid.]

The weather still continuing favourable, the artificers landed this
morning at half-past 6 and remained till half-past 11, when 15 stones
were laid. They landed again at 5 and remained till 11 P. M., when 14
stones were laid. 29 stones were transported to the Rock to-day in the

[Sidenote: Friday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: 27 stones laid.]

The artificers landed this morning at a quarter from 7, and remained
six hours and a quarter on the Rock, when 18 stones were laid. They
landed again in the evening and remained four hours and a quarter, when
9 stones were laid, which completed the Twelfth course; the praam-boats
having landed 27 stones.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 15th.]

[Sidenote: 52 Stones landed and laid.]

The wind was southerly, with occasional showers of rain to-day, but
the sea was smooth. The artificers landed at a quarter past 7 this
morning, and as the water did not overflow the building, they continued
on the Rock till midnight, being 16 hours and a half, and laid no fewer
than 52 stones, which, in the early part of the day, had also been
transported to the Rock by the landing-master’s crew. This was the most
successful day’s work which had hitherto been made. The Twelfth course
was thus completed, which brought the building to the height of 15 feet
above the lower bed of the foundation-stone.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 16th.]

[Sidenote: 32 Stones laid.]

Hitherto no order had been given for loading the Bell Rock vessels with
stones on Sundays, but Mr Kennedy, to whose department this belonged,
had, with his usual unwearied attention, commenced on Sunday night, at
12 o’clock, which enabled the Patriot to sail at 5, and reach the Rock
at 10 A. M., with a cargo of stones. The artificers landed at half-past
7, and laid 21 stones in the course of seven hours and a half; and
having again landed in the evening at 7, they laid 11 stones in four
hours, all of which had been landed on the Rock to-day from the praams.
Besides laying, boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting these stones,
several other operations were proceeded with on the Rock, at low-water,
when some of the artificers were employed at the Railways, and at
high-water at the Beacon-house. The seamen having prepared a quantity
of tarpaulin, or cloth laid over with successive coats of hot tar, the
joiners had just completed the covering of the roof with it. This sort
of covering was lighter and more easily managed than sheet-lead in
such a situation. As a farther defence against the weather, the whole
exterior of this temporary residence was painted with three coats of
white-lead paint. Between the timber-framing of the habitable part of
the Beacon, the interstices were to be stuffed with moss, as a light
substance that would resist dampness, and check sifting winds: the
whole interior was then to be lined with green baize-cloth, so that
both without and within the cabins were to have a very comfortable

[Sidenote: Monday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: 9 Stones laid.]

The artificers landed this morning at half-past 7, and remained at work
five hours and a half, when 9 stones were laid; but the wind having
shifted to the N.E., which increased to a hard gale, in the course of
this afternoon, both the Smeaton and Patriot were obliged to slip their
moorings, when they proceeded in company to Leith Roads for shelter.
The Tender, however, being in a more light trim, and better adapted for
riding, continued at her station.

[Sidenote: One of the Artificers is accidentally killed in the

While some of the masons were employed to-day in raising a large stone
in the work-yard at Arbroath, the purchase unfortunately slipped,
and the stone fell upon William Walker, one of the labourers, who
was putting a prop under it, to preserve its position till a better
purchase could be taken. By this accident, Walker’s thigh-bone was
unfortunately broken, and, though medical assistance was procured
without delay, the poor man died in the course of a few hours, leaving
a wife and two young children. The Commissioners of the Light-houses,
in consideration of the circumstances of this case, settled an annuity
of L. 5 upon his widow.

[Sidenote: Tuesday 18th.]

[Sidenote: One of the workmen remains in the Beacon alone.]

The wind still continued to blow fresh from the N.E., but the
artificers were enabled to land on the Rock at a quarter from 11, where
they remained two hours and three quarters, employed in shifting the
crane on the building, and making other preparations for laying the
Thirteenth course. Although the building-artificers generally remained
on the Rock throughout the day, and the mill-wrights, joiners, and
smiths, while their number was considerable, remained also during
the night, yet the Tender had hitherto been considered as their
night-quarters. But the wind having, in the course of the day, shifted
to the N.W., and as the passage to the Tender, in the boats, was likely
to be attended with difficulty, the whole of the artificers, with
Mr Logan, the foreman, preferred remaining all night on the Beacon,
which had, of late, become the solitary abode of George Forsyth, a
jobbing-upholsterer, who had been employed in lining the Beacon-house
with cloth, and in fitting up the bedding. Forsyth was a tall, thin,
and rather loose-made man, who had an utter aversion at climbing upon
the trap-ladders of the Beacon, but especially at the process of
boating, and the motion of the ship, which he said, “was death itself.”
He, therefore, pertinaciously insisted with the landing-master in being
left upon the Beacon, with a small black dog as his only companion. The
writer, however, felt some delicacy in leaving a single individual upon
the Rock, who must have been so very helpless, in case of accident.
This fabric had, from the beginning, been rather intended by the writer
to guard against accident from the loss or damage of a boat, and as a
place for making mortar, a smith’s shop, and a store for tools, during
the working months, than as permanent quarters: nor was it at all meant
to be possessed until the joiner-work were completely finished, and his
own cabin, and that for the foremen, in readiness, when it was still
to be left to the choice of the artificers to occupy the Tender or the
Beacon. He, however, considered Forsyth’s partiality and confidence in
the latter, as rather a fortunate occurrence.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers remove with Peter Fortune to the Beacon.]

The whole of the artificers, 23 in number, now removed, of their own
accord, from the Tender, to lodge in the Beacon, together with Peter
Fortune, a person singularly adapted for a residence of this kind, both
from the urbanity of his manners, and the versatility of his talents.
Fortune, in his person, was of small stature, and rather corpulent.
Besides being a good Scotch cook, he had acted both as groom and
house-servant; he had been a soldier, a suttler, a writer’s clerk,
and an apothecary, from which he possessed the art of writing and
suggesting recipes, and had hence, also, perhaps acquired a turn for
making collections in natural history; but in his practice in surgery,
on the Bell Rock, for which he received an annual fee of three guineas,
he is supposed to have been rather partial to the use of the lancet.
In short, Peter was the _fac-totum_ of the Beacon-house, where he
ostensibly acted in the several capacities of cook, steward, surgeon,
and barber, and kept a statement of the rations or expenditure of the
provisions, with the strictest integrity.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: Praam-boats cannot approach the Rock.]

The wind was at the S.E. to-day, accompanied with a considerable
swell of sea; and, although the Smeaton and Patriot had returned
from Leith Roads, and the praams had been loaded, and were riding at
their moorings, yet they could not approach the Rock. The building
artificers, however, found employment in boring, trenailing, wedging,
and grouting the last laid course. The smiths and mill-wrights worked
at the western Railway, and the joiners at sundry jobs about the

[Sidenote: Friday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: 18 Stones laid and 69 landed.]

The weather having improved, the Smeaton was entirely discharged to-day
of her cargo of 69 stones, which were also landed on the Rock, with a
due proportion of other building materials, as pozzolano, lime, and
sand, &c.; and 18 stones of the Thirteenth course were laid to-day.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: An embargo is laid on Shipping.]

In the present important state of the building, when it had just
attained the height of 16 feet, and the upper courses, and especially
the imperfect one, were in the wash of the heaviest seas, an
express-boat arrived at the Rock, with a letter from Mr Kennedy of the
work-yard, stating, that, in consequence of the intended Expedition
to Walcheren, an embargo had been laid on shipping at all the ports
of Great Britain; that both the Smeaton and Patriot were detained
at Arbroath, and that, but for the proper view which Mr Ramsay, the
port-officer, had taken of his orders, neither the express-boat,
nor one which had been sent with provisions and necessaries for the
Floating-light, would have been permitted to leave the harbour. The
writer set off without delay for Arbroath, and, on landing, used every
possible means with the official people; but their orders were deemed
so peremptory, that even boats were not permitted to sail from any
port upon the coast. In the mean time, the collector of the Customs
at Montrose applied to the Board at Edinburgh, but could, of himself,
grant no relief to the Bell Rock shipping.

[Sidenote: Mr Sheriff Duff corresponds with the Board of Customs.]

At this critical period, Mr Adam Duff, then Sheriff of Forfarshire, now
of the county of Edinburgh, and _ex officio_ one of the Commissioners
of the Northern Light-houses, happened to be at Arbroath. Mr Duff took
an immediate interest in representing the circumstances of the case to
the Board of Customs at Edinburgh. But such were the doubts entertained
on the subject, that, on having previously received the appeal from the
Collector at Montrose, the case had been submitted to the consideration
of the Lords of the Treasury, whose decision was now waited for.

[Sidenote: Operations at the Rock while the vessels were under embargo.]

In this state of things, the writer felt particularly desirous to
get the Thirteenth course finished, that the building might be in
a more secure state, in the event of bad weather. An opportunity
was therefore embraced on the 25th, in sailing with provisions for
the Floating-light, to carry the necessary stones to the Rock for
this purpose, which were landed and built on the 26th and 27th. But
so closely was the watch kept up, that a Customhouse-officer was
always placed on board of the Smeaton and Patriot while they were
afloat, till the embargo was specially removed from the Light-house
vessels. The artificers at the Bell Rock had been reduced to fifteen,
who were regularly supplied with provisions, along with the crew
of the Floating-light, mainly through the port-officer’s liberal
interpretation of his orders. After completing the Thirteenth course,
they were employed in erecting a kind of stool or prop of masonry on
the western side of the building, for which the stones had fortunately
been landed previous to the embargo. This prop, as will be understood
by examining the second year’s work of Plate IX., consisted of large
blocks of stone, measuring 5 feet in length, 2 feet 6 inches in
breadth, and 15 inches in thickness, and, when completed, it was 6 feet
in height, and 6 feet square at the top, so that the men in working the
crane had a sufficient space for standing. By this means, the foot of
the lower crane was elevated 6 feet above the Rock, which, added to the
length of the working-beam, made a height of about 18 feet, and, in the
present state of the building, the stones were thus raised to the level
of the last built course. The crane on the top of the building, with
which the stones were laid, was, therefore, now only employed to take
them from the lower crane, instead of lifting them at once from the
waggons on the Railway. During this period, also, the Beacon-house and
Railways were completely overhauled, and matters of minor importance
attended to, which were obliged to be left behind when the works were
going on briskly.

[Sidenote: 1809, August.]

[Sidenote: The embargo is taken off the Light-house vessels.]

The Lords of the Treasury had no sooner received the appeal from
the Board of Customs at Edinburgh, than an order was issued for all
vessels and boats belonging to the service of the Commissioners of the
Northern Light-houses, to be released and permitted to sail upon their
respective voyages. But before this order could be made effective,
ten days of the finest weather of the season had elapsed. Every one
connected with the work had now become impatient to be again at work,
when the writer had the happiness to receive a letter from Mr Charles
Cuningham, Secretary to the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses,
stating that an order might be expected to reach the Collector of the
Customs at Montrose on the 30th. Mr Kennedy was consequently sent to
Montrose to wait the arrival of the post, which happened at midnight,
when Mr Paton the Collector, with much attention, gave immediate orders
for the liberation of the Bell Rock vessels; and as both the Smeaton
and Patriot were loaded and ready for sea, they sailed from Arbroath on
Sunday the 30th, with the wind at E.S.E., and arrived at their moorings
at the Rock early on the 31st.

[Sidenote: The necessity of stopping the Bell Rock shipping doubted,
under any circumstances.]

On the subject of this embargo, as applicable to the boats and vessels
in the Bell Rock service, it would be difficult, and perhaps improper,
to give any opinion regarding the discretion or prudence exercised by
the Officers of the Customs, especially as the Board itself found it
necessary to appeal to the Treasury for instructions. If, however, the
Superior Officers at Montrose, aware of all the circumstances of this
peculiar case, had allowed the work at the Bell Rock to proceed, till
special orders could have been received on this peculiar point, there
is reason to believe it would not have been called in question by the
Board of Customs at Edinburgh. But when the vessels were peremptorily
stopped, and the matter brought formally under its notice, an appeal to
the Treasury was considered indispensable.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 1st.]

[Sidenote: 78 stones landed, and 40 laid.]

[Sidenote: 24 artificers inhabit the Beacon.]

There being a considerable swell and breach of sea upon the Rock
yesterday, the stones could not be got landed till the day following,
when the wind shifted to the southward, and the weather improved.
But to-day no less than 78 blocks of stone were landed, of which 40
were built, which completed the Fourteenth, and part of the Fifteenth
courses. The number of workmen now resident in the Beacon-house were
augmented to 24; including the landing-master’s crew from the Tender,
and the boat’s crew from the Floating-light, who assisted at landing
the stones. Those daily at work upon the Rock at this period amounted
to 46. A cabin had been laid out for the writer on the Beacon, as will
be seen from Plate VIII. but his apartment had been the last which
was finished, and he had not yet taken possession of it; for though he
generally spent the greater part of the day, at this time, upon the
Rock, yet he always slept on board of the Tender.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 2d.]

[Sidenote: Mr Sheriff Duff visits the works at the Rock.]

To-day the wind was from the S.E., accompanied with a pretty heavy
swell of sea, which, in the early part of the season, would perhaps
have been sufficient to deter the attempt of landing building
materials; but such was the dexterity of the landing-master and his
crew, that 23 stones were transported to the western creek, and
afterwards, by great exertions, got along the Rock, though the Railways
were still in an incomplete state. With these, the builders were
enabled to finish the Sixteenth course, consisting of 53 stones. The
work was visited to-day by Mr Sheriff Duff, who, with his accompanying
friends, were much gratified in landing on the Bell Rock, and viewing
the advanced state of the works.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: 23 stones laid.]

The wind being from south-east, a heavy swell of sea ran upon the Rock,
so that no stones were landed to-day. The building being now about 19
feet in height, it was found to produce a smoothness on the lee-side,
and as the north-east wind produced the heaviest seas, the lower crane,
erected on the prop, being placed on the south-west side, was somewhat
sheltered from that quarter, and admitted of a considerable quantity of
materials being occasionally laid around it; and, therefore, although
none were landed to-day, yet 23 blocks of the Seventeenth course were

[Sidenote: Friday, 4th.]

[Sidenote: 2 stones laid.]

The weather proved very fine, and the seamen were employed on board
of the Floating-light in shifting her winter cable, and inspecting
her chain-moorings, as she had just undergone such repair in her
upper-works, as could be conveniently given her while afloat. The
artificers on the Rock laid two stones to-day, and were otherwise
employed in trenailing and grouting the Seventeenth course.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 5th.]

[Sidenote: 8 stones laid.]

The weather still continued favourable, and the landing-master’s crew
discharged the Patriot of her cargo, of which 40 stones were landed
on the Rock, and the remaining 12 were kept on board of one of the
Praam-boats at her moorings. The artificers built 8 stones to-day,
so that 32 of the 40 which had been landed, were either laid without
mortar, upon the building, or ranged round the stool of the lower
crane, in readiness for next tide.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 6th.]

In the course of the last night, however, the wind had shifted to the
N.E., accompanied by a heavy swell of sea, and it was impossible for
the landing-master’s boats to approach the Rock. But the artificers
being now stationary upon the Beacon, they could pass from it to the
building at all times of tide, by means of the rope-ladder, formerly
noticed, as will be understood by examining the second year’s work,
represented in Plate IX. They accordingly laid 25 stones to-day,
and completed the Seventeenth course, consisting of 60 blocks. The
Praam-boat, with the remaining 12 stones of the Patriot’s cargo on
board, rode at her moorings with great ease, and although the swell was
very considerable, yet she had very little motion; and even when deeply
loaded, these decked boats shipped no water. So easily did they ride
at anchor, that the _sickly artificers_, while on board of the Tender,
though much easier than the Floating-light, were often heard to express
a wish that their births could be shifted to a Praam-boat.

[Sidenote: Narrow escape from ship-wreck.]

At day-break, this morning, a large schooner, the Fly of Bridport,
Green, master, bound from London to Dundee, was observed standing right
upon the Bell Rock, when she was suddenly taken _aback_ on seeing the
Beacon and works on the Rock. The crew of this vessel being entire
strangers, had hoisted a signal, when the landing-master immediately
went on board, and after some consultation, Pool, the master of the
Smeaton, was sent to conduct the Fly into the Frith of Tay.

[Sidenote: Monday, 7th.]

The wind had shifted to the S.W. to-day, but still a heavy swell of
the sea prevented the landing of materials, and the artificers were
accordingly employed in shifting the crane on the building, and at
low-water they were all engaged in fixing and extending the Railways
towards the western creek.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: 12 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Mr Sheriff Hamilton visits the works.]

The sea having fallen considerably, the loaded Praam-boat got to the
Rock, and the artificers laid the 12 stones which had now been on
board of her since the 5th. The works at the Rock were visited to-day
by Mr Robert Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanark, and _ex officio_ one of
the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, who expressed much
satisfaction at the progress of the operations.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: 36 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: Additional supports for the Beacon landed to-day.]

The number of artificers were augmented from 24 to 26, and measures
were taken for leveling the necessary sites on the Rock for some
additional supports for the legs or principal beams of the Beacon.
These supports had been prepared in the course of the winter, but
had not yet been applied, from the pressing nature of the building
operations. They consisted both of iron and of timber, the former to
connect the principal beams horizontally, and the latter diagonally,
in order that, by every possible means, this essential part of the
establishment might be preserved through the winter, and divested of
the _twist_ so expressively felt and complained of by Mr Logan, on the
30th of May. To-day 36 stones were landed and built, which finished the
Nineteenth course, and brought the building to the height of about 23

[Sidenote: Thursday, 10th.]

To-day 26 stones of the Twentieth course were landed and laid.

[Sidenote: Friday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: Sheer-crane broken by the force of the sea.]

The wind was at S.E. on the 11th, and there was so very heavy a swell
of sea upon the Rock, that no boat could approach it. Such indeed
was the force of its breach, that one of the legs of the cast-iron
Sheer-crane at the eastern creek, represented in Plate XI., was
again broken. It is not a little remarkable, that these bars, which
contained about 16 square inches of section, should nevertheless have
been snapped, by the force of the sea, on three different occasions.
It must, however, be remarked, that these sheers, in their operation,
had necessarily a certain action laterally, in effecting the laying of
a stone upon the waggon; in heavy seas, therefore, the apparatus was
subject to a jerking motion, which proved sufficient to break it; so
essential is it, that every thing within the range of the sea should be
Dead-fast, as workmen emphatically express it, or as firm and steady as

[Sidenote: Saturday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: Some of the Artificers become alarmed and leave the Beacon.]

The gale still continuing from the S.E., the sea broke with great
violence both upon the Building and the Beacon. The former being 23
feet in height, the upper part of the crane erected on it having been
lifted from course to course as the building advanced, was now about
36 feet above the Rock. From observations made on the rise of the sea
by this crane, the artificers were enabled to estimate its height to
be about 50 feet above the Rock, while the sprays fell with a most
alarming noise upon their cabins. At low-water, in the evening, a
signal was made from the Beacon, at the earnest desire of some of
the artificers, for the boats to come to the Rock; and although this
could not be effected without considerable hazard, it was however
accomplished, when twelve of their number, being much afraid, applied
to the foreman to be relieved, and went on board of the Tender. But
the remaining fourteen continued on the Rock, with Mr Peter Logan, the
foreman builder. Although this rule of allowing an option to every man
either to remain on the Rock or return to the Tender, was strictly
adhered to; yet, as it would have been extremely inconvenient to have
had the men parcelled out in this manner, it became necessary to
embrace the first opportunity of sending those who had left the Beacon
to the workyard, with as little appearance of intention as possible,
lest it should hurt their feelings, or prevent others from acting
according to their wishes, either in landing on the Rock or remaining
on the Beacon.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 13th.]

[Sidenote: Effects of the late gale.]

All hands were employed at low-water to-day, in refitting the
sheer-crane at the eastern landing-place, and in adjusting other things
about the Beacon and Rock, which had been scattered and deranged during
the late gale. In particular, the guy-ropes of the cranes required to
be tightened; for, although they were of patent-cordage, and had often
been well tried, yet, upon this occasion, they were stretched and much
relaxed with the excessive motion of the sea. The whole appurtenances
of the mortar-gallery had been sent adrift; even the blacksmith’s
anvil was upset! and found lying at the foot of the Beacon, while his
bellows, and the greater part of the deals with which the floor was
laid, were forced up and carried away, with all the lime and cement

[Sidenote: Monday, 14th.]

The wind still continued from the S.E., and though blowing with less
force, yet the sea rolled over the Rock too heavily for approaching it
with building materials. But, in the course of the day, efforts were
made for getting the landing-apparatus again into a working state.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 15th.]

[Sidenote: 5 stones laid.]

[Sidenote: The Writer takes possession of his cabin in the Beacon.]

The wind had fortunately shifted to the S.W. this morning, and though a
considerable breach was still upon the Rock, yet the landing-master’s
crew were enabled to get one Praam-boat, lightly loaded with five
stones, brought in safety to the western creek: these stones were
immediately laid by the artificers, who gladly embraced the return of
good weather to proceed with their operations. The writer had this day
taken possession of his cabin in the Beacon-house. It was small, but
commodious, and was found particularly convenient in coarse and blowing
weather, instead of being obliged to make a passage to the Tender in an
open boat, at all times, both during the day and the night, which was
often attended with much difficulty and danger.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 16th.]

[Sidenote: 52 stones landed and 18 built.]

The sea was much run down to-day, but the wind from the west, prevented
the landing of stones on the western side of the Rock, and the repairs
of the sheer-crane were still incomplete. Captain Wilson undertook,
however, to land two Praam-boats of stones on the top of the building
at high-water. He accordingly laid the Hedderwick and Fernie in
succession, alongside of the building, and in this manner 30 stones
were landed; the repairs of the sheer-crane were completed, and during
the evening tide, other two praam-loads were landed at low-water at the
eastern creek, making in all 52 stones, of which 18 of the Twentieth
course were built.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 17th.]

The wind had shifted from W. to N.E. to-day, but the weather being
fine, 29 stones were landed, and 25 built.

[Sidenote: Friday, 18th.]

The weather is rather boisterous to-day, accompanied with rain, and
a considerable swell of sea. The two praam-boats, however, were got
to the Rock, when 16 stones were landed, which, with those already at
hand, finished the Twentieth and commenced the Twenty-first course.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: Floating-light boat loses her way.]

For some days past, the weather had been occasionally so thick and
foggy, that no small difficulty was experienced in going even between
the Rock and the Tender, though quite at hand. But the Floating-light’s
boat lost her way so far in returning on board that the first land
she made, after rowing all night, was Fifeness, a distance of about
14 miles, as will be seen from Plate IV. The weather having cleared
in the morning, the crew stood off again for the Floating-light, and
got on board in a half famished and much exhausted state, having been
constantly rowing for about 16 hours.

[Sidenote: 29 stones built.]

The wind shifted this morning from E. to S.W. with much rain. The sloop
Patriot returned from the Frith of Forth this forenoon, to which she
had been driven by the late gales. The weather being more favourable
to-day, 31 stones were landed on the Rock, and 29 stones were built,
with which the Twenty-first course was finished, which brings the
building to the height of 25 feet. The crane was also shifted, and
every preparation made for commencing with the next course.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: An entire course laid to-day. Prayers read on the Rock.]

The weather being very favourable to-day, 53 stones were landed,
and the builders were not a little gratified in having built the
Twenty-second course, consisting of 51 stones, being the first course
which had been completed in one day. This, as a matter of course,
produced three hearty cheers. At 12 noon, prayers were read for the
first time on the Bell Rock: those present, counting thirty, were
crowded into the upper apartment of the Beacon, where the writer took a
central position, while two of the artificers joining hands supported
the Bible.

[Sidenote: Monday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Smeaton arrives with the last course of the solid.]

The wind was from the S.W. this morning, blowing fresh, with rain. The
Praam-boats, however, landed thirty-two stones, which were also built.
At 6 P. M. the Smeaton arrived from Arbroath, having on board the last
cargo of the solid part of the building. She was, of course, decorated
with all her colours; and, in compliment to the advanced state of the
work, there was a display of flags from the Floating-light and the
other vessels on the station, and also from the Beacon-house and the
Building itself.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Floating-light breaks adrift.]

During last night it blew excessively hard, and the operations to-day
were much interrupted by the breaking loose of the Floating-light. At
5 o’clock this morning an alarm was given throughout the Beacon-house
of this circumstance, when a signal was instantly made for the Tender
to get under way; at the same time one of her boats came to the Rock,
and the writer left the Beacon, and sailed with the Tender to the
assistance of the Floating-light. It was some time before the watch on
the deck had observed, by their greater distance from the buoy upon the
spare moorings, that the vessel had actually got adrift. Mr John Reid,
acting master, was immediately called, when the best bower anchor was
let go with a sufficient scope of cable, about a mile from her original
station. Here she was obliged to be left till the weather should become
moderate enough to admit of her being towed to her former station.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 23d.]

From the untoward circumstance of the Floating-light’s breaking adrift,
the landing-master and his crew were fully employed with the Tender
in this service, so that no materials could be got landed on the Bell
Rock, either yesterday or to-day.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 24th.]

The wind was still from the westward, but had now moderated
considerably, when 28 stones of the Smeaton’s cargo were landed on the
Rock, and 14 blocks were laid, with which the Twenty-third course was

[Sidenote: Friday, 25th.]

[Sidenote: Building operations concluded for the season.]

To-day, the remainder of the Smeaton’s cargo was landed, and the
artificers laid 45 stones, which completed the Twenty-fourth course,
reckoning above the first entire one, and the twenty-sixth above the
Rock. This finished the solid part of the building, and terminated the
height of the outward casing of granite, which is 31 feet 6 inches
above the Rock or site of the foundation-stone, and about 17 feet above
high-water of spring-tides. Being a particular crisis in the progress
of the Light-house, the landing and laying of the last stone for the
season was observed with the usual ceremonies.

[Sidenote: Probable height of waves in free space.]

[Sidenote: Inducements for stopping the building operations.]

From observations often made by the writer, in so far as such can be
ascertained, it appears that no wave in the open seas, in an unbroken
state, rises more than from 7 to 9 feet above the general surface of
the ocean. The Bell Rock Light-house may therefore now be considered
as from 8 to 10 feet above the weight of the waves; and, although the
sprays and heavy seas have often been observed, in the present state
of the building, to rise to the height of 50 feet, and fall with a
tremendous noise on the Beacon-house, yet such seas were not likely
to make any impression on a mass of solid masonry, containing about
1400 tons: its form being at the same time circular, and diminishing
in diameter from the base to the top, as represented in the second
year’s work, Plate IX. It had for some time been a matter of doubt
with the writer, whether he might not attempt to carry the building to
the top of the stone stair-case, or 13 feet above the solid, the wall
being here of the medium thickness of 6 feet. Several considerations,
however, induced him to stop for the season with the completion of the
solid, especially as it left the work in a more entire and defensible
condition than if the door and part of the void had been built. One of
the chief objections to continuing the operations, was the dread of
encountering the gales experienced in former years early in the month
of September. Another special obstacle was the difficulty and danger
attending the guying or fixing of the present crane on the top of the
building, which had now got to too great a height for its stability,
as the guy-ropes which supported it were of the unmanageable length of
about 80 feet. Even in the month of July, as before noticed, this state
of things had become so obvious, that it was then determined to make
the crane upon a new construction, which was to be kept in equilibrium
by means of a balance-weight, and thus do away with the guy-ropes
altogether. This crane had accordingly been prepared, but, like most
machines upon a new construction, it was not found to operate in so
satisfactory a manner as to warrant its immediate removal to the Bell
Rock. It was therefore resolved rather to perfect the Balance-crane in
the course of the winter months, and begin with a better prospect of
success in the spring. The building operations were therefore brought
to a conclusion; and the writer now took his leave of the Bell Rock
till the ensuing season, excepting in so far as an occasional visit
might occur.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 29th.]

The Floating-light had been made fast to the spare moorings to-day,
but those which had given way were again fished up, when she was towed
back to her former station for the winter. It appeared that one of the
shackles had got loose when she went adrift.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: Tender to continue her station, and Beacon to be occupied
for a time.]

From the 25th till the 30th, the seamen and artificers were busily
employed, at the proper time of tide, in removing every thing from the
Rock that was not farther wanted for the season, and in securing such
things as were to be left. It was still necessary, however, to keep
the Tender on the station, and also to occupy the Beacon-house, and to
retain the floor of the open gallery for the smiths, as an additional
strut or support was to be erected on the inside of each of the six
principal beams of the Beacon. There were also 36 strong tie-bars of
malleable-iron to be bolted to these beams, in a horizontal direction,
as represented in Plate VIII., in lieu of the bracing-chains, which
were not found to answer, for connecting the whole together.

[Sidenote: Congratulations on the Artificers returning ashore after
several months’ absence.]

These operations being arranged with Mr Francis Watt, as foreman, the
whole of the artificers left the Rock at mid-day, when the Tender
made sail for Arbroath, which she reached about 6 P. M. The vessel
being decorated with colours, and having fired a salute of three
guns on approaching the harbour, the work-yard artificers, with a
multitude of people, assembled at the harbour, when mutual cheering
and congratulations took place between those afloat and those on the
quays. The Tender had now, with little exception, been six months on
the station at the Bell Rock, and, during the last four months, few of
the squad of builders had been ashore. In particular, Mr Peter Logan,
the foreman, and Mr Robert Selkirk, principal builder, had never once
left the Rock. The artificers having made good wages during their stay,
like seamen upon a return-voyage, were extremely happy, and spent the
evening with much innocent mirth and jollity.

[Sidenote: 1809, September.]

[Sidenote: Reflections on the very proper conduct of the Artificers.]

In reflecting upon the state of matters at the Bell Rock, during the
working months, when the writer was much with the artificers, nothing
can equal the happy manner in which these excellent workmen spent
their time. They always went from Arbroath to their arduous task
cheering, and they generally returned in the same hearty state. While
at the Rock, between the tides, they amused themselves in reading,
fishing, music, playing cards, drafts, &c. or in sporting with one
another. In the work-yard at Arbroath, the young men were almost,
without exception, employed in the evening at school, in writing and
arithmetic, and not a few were learning architectural drawing, for
which they had every convenience and facility, and were, in a very
obliging manner, assisted in their studies by Mr David Logan, Clerk of
Works. It therefore affords the most pleasing reflections, to look back
upon the pursuits of about 60 individuals, who, for years, conducted
themselves, on all occasions, in a sober and rational manner.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 5th.]

[Sidenote: Tender again returns to her station at the Rock.]

The operations at the Bell Rock for the remainder of the season being
confined to the lower parts of the Beacon and Railways, were chiefly
low-water works. The Tender had again been fitted out for her station,
with a supply of provisions and necessaries for ten seamen and nineteen
artificers, carrying with her supplies for the Floating-light and
Beacon-house. At 11 A. M. she left Arbroath on this service; but the
wind being S.E., it was not till Thursday the 7th, at 8 o’clock P. M.
that she was made fast to her moorings.

[Sidenote: Friday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: Experiences very bad weather.]

At 6 o’clock this morning, Mr Watt, with eighteen artificers, landed on
the Rock, commenced the work, and remained on the Beacon till Thursday,
the 14th, when the vessel returned to Arbroath, having had extremely
boisterous weather, and been twice obliged during that period to
slip and leave her moorings. The prevailing winds were S.E., and the
barometer oscillated between 29.5 and 29.60.

[Sidenote: Monday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: Writer makes a trip to Flamborough-head Light-house.]

Looking forward with confidence to the completion of the Bell Rock
Light-house in the course of the next year, the writer, with much
expectation, began to prepare every part of the establishment. He had
early anticipated the necessity of fixing upon the description of light
which would be necessary for characterising and distinguishing its
range or compartment of the coast. With this in view, he had already
made a train of experiments with shades of different coloured glass
at Inchkeith Light-house, the result of which tended to shew that
light passing through Red-coloured shades, alternating with periodic
intervals of Darkness, and light of the Natural appearance, were
the most effectual and suitable means for answering this purpose.
Notwithstanding that his opinion on this subject was quite decided,
he was still desirous of seeing the effect produced by the light of
Flamborough-head, on the coast of Yorkshire, which was the first
erection of this description on the British coast, and had, indeed,
been only lately exhibited. That his observations might therefore be
the more certain and complete, he embarked in the sloop Smeaton, on the
16th of this month, reached the Yorkshire coast on the 18th, and in the
course of that night had the light in view, at various distances, both
in clear and foggy weather, which extended the range of his remarks.

[Sidenote: Experiences a sudden gale of wind.]

In the course of this night, the wind blew fresh from the S.W., and
an immense number of large vessels, chiefly in the Coal-trade, passed
our small ship, which obliged the crew to keep a sharp look-out, to
avoid the imminent danger of being run down, especially after the
weather became thick. As our course lay close to Flamborough-head,
we had several hairbreadth escapes; for the vessel had no sooner put
about to avoid the land, than she was in danger of being run foul of
by the passing vessels. In this situation things remained from about 1
o’clock on the morning of the 19th till 5, when, all of a sudden, the
wind shifted, in the most surprising manner, from W.SW. to N.W., when
the weather immediately clearing, was succeeded by a heavy gale, which
forced our ship into Burlington-Bay, where she was safely anchored.

[Sidenote: Storm described.]

[Sidenote: Great want of a Public Harbour on this coast.]

As this was one of the most extraordinary tornadoes that the writer
ever witnessed, he will endeavour to give some account of it. On the
morning of the 18th, the day preceding the storm, when off Scarborough,
he had requested to be called early, that he might see the coast, and
enjoy the sight of the rising sun. The weather was then extremely
fine, but the sun had a most piercingly brilliant appearance as it
came into view upon the horizon; and he was assured by Captain Pool,
that the general aspect of the heavens indicated a change of weather
for the worse. In the course of the 18th the sky became cloudy, and
the wind shifted from point to point, but prevailed chiefly from the
S.W. At midnight, the weather was foggy, and the wind blew so fresh
that the second reef was taken into the Smeaton’s mainsail, and her
topmast was struck. During the whole of the night, a fleet of vessels
passed to the northward with a fair wind: these were understood to be
colliers, in ballast, on their return voyage from London to Sunderland
and Newcastle. At 5 A. M., however, while the Smeaton was lying-to,
and waiting for day light, the wind shifted so suddenly to N.W., that
it appeared to those below as if she had been upset, or had run upon
a rock. In an instant all was bustle and confusion, till the vessel
was got before the wind. The writer being in bed, immediately sprung
up, and, on inquiring into the matter, the answer was, “It blows mere
fire.” The man at the helm, at the same time, pointed out a vessel in
a disabled state, having been dismasted with the sudden change of the
wind. Our small bark was fortunately in the opening of Burlington Bay,
where she got to an anchor about 6 o’clock A. M. In the course of the
day, not fewer than 160 vessels took shelter in the same place, many of
them in a mutilated and dismantled state, having, to use a sea phrase,
had their sails “split in ribbons;” and two were towed into the Bay,
one of which, a large brig, already alluded to, was totally dismasted.
Such a scene, arising from what may be termed a “Summer’s Gale,” had
rarely been seen on this coast. Three vessels were also driven ashore
and wrecked in Robin Hood Bay, a few miles north of Flamborough-head,
and several others, as the writer afterwards learned, had been stranded
on various parts of the coast, between Yarmouth Roads and the Shetland
Islands. The want of some place of refuge for the extensive shipping
of this coast in disastrous circumstances like the present, is very
apparent. Had there been a harbour at Bridlington of sufficient
capacity for large ships, perhaps not fewer than 100 sail would have
refitted there, which were obliged to go to sea in a very crippled
condition. Probably a _Northern Ramsgate_ could not be better set down
than here or somewhere upon the Norfolk coast.

[Sidenote: Progress of the gale along the coast.]

The writer is the more particular in noticing the anomalous state of
the weather on this occasion, because the progress of this gale seems
to have been comparatively slow. It appeared upon inquiry, from the
date of various shipwrecks, to have visited Shetland on the evening
of the 17th, Peterhead on the 18th, and Yarmouth at noon of that day.
Now, as the distance between Sumburgh-head in Shetland and Yarmouth
is about 430 miles, and if we allow 42 hours, as nearly as could be
ascertained, for the progress of the wind between these points, it thus
appears that the N.W. gale had not made its way against the S.W. wind,
at a greater rate than about 10 miles per hour, though, from a train of
experiments made in the neighbourhood of Leith, by Mr Andrew Waddell,
F. R. S. E., and obligingly communicated to the writer, he has often
observed the velocity of the wind to be about 60 miles per hour. But
here we cannot enough regret the want of an efficient Anemometer, or
instrument for measuring the force of the wind. Indeed, we hardly know
any desideratum of more universal interest, for, notwithstanding the
labours of Lind and others on this subject, from the want of a proper
scale, we are still groping in the dark with the use of such indefinite
terms, as “Light airs, inclining to calm,”--“Fresh breezes,”--“Fresh
gales,”--“Hard gales,”--and “Very hard gales;” for it rarely happens
that the sailor will admit the term “Storm” into his nomenclature.

[Sidenote: Monday, 25th.]

[Sidenote: Mr B. Mills suggests distinguishing-lights with colours.]

Having landed at Bridlington on the 20th, the writer had the pleasure
of meeting with Mr Benjamin Mills, Collector of the Customs there, and
agent for Flamborough-head Light-house. This gentleman accompanied
the writer to the Light-house, about six miles distant. He was also
at pains to explain the mode in which he had originally proposed the
erection of a Distinguishing-light, from oil, with reflectors, for
this station; as a Coal-light, formerly here, had long since been
actually extinguished, on account of its being often mistaken for other
lights on the coast. Mr Mills, observing the consequent disasters to
shipping on these shores, proposed to construct a Revolving-light,
distinguishable by means of colours, the machinery to be kept in motion
by the agency of a neighbouring rill of water. Though the apparatus
described to the writer seemed, upon the whole, not very applicable
in practice, yet it is believed that Mr Mills was the first who
suggested the idea of a distinguishing light, by means of coloured
shades of glass. Some useful remarks having been made on the effects of
Flamborough-head light, the writer sailed for the Frith of Forth, and
reached Edinburgh on Monday the 25th.

[Sidenote: Voyage to the Northern Lights.]

Soon afterwards, he embarked at Greenock in the Light-house Yacht, on
his annual voyage for the inspection of the Northern Light-houses,
proceeding down the Clyde by the Mull of Kintyre, through the sounds
of the Western Islands to Cape Wrath and the Orkneys, and from thence,
along the eastern coast to the Frith of Forth, which he reached in the
beginning of November; when he found the Bell Rock works about to be

[Sidenote: 1809, November.]

[Sidenote: State of the works when concluded for the season.]

The complement of artificers which had been employed at the Rock, and
lodged in the Beacon-house, from the period of completing the building
operations in the month of August, till November, was twenty-four, who,
as before noticed, were chiefly employed in fixing additional supports
to the Beacon, and in extending and completing the Railways leading
to the western creek. The works therefore, were only continued during
the period of spring-tides; and in neap-tides the artificers returned
to the work-yard. The plate-iron-forge, anvil, and other weighty
articles, had been removed from the Beacon, and set up in a centrical
position on the top of the building, where the smiths had been for
some time at work: the rope-ladder of communication, which had been
found so useful this season, was taken down, and every thing arranged
in the most compact and orderly manner for the winter. In the course
of these latter operations, the Tender had been twice obliged to slip
her moorings, and leave the artificers upon the Beacon. At one of these
times, she proceeded for Leith Roads, when Mr Watt stated that very
bad weather had been experienced on the Beacon, and that, on several
occasions, considerable alarm was felt, more particularly when the
Tender was driven off her station, the artificers conceiving themselves
in a more forlorn and helpless situation while she was out of view.
Having made the necessary arrangements for the Rock being visited
during the winter months, the writer left the works on the 8th November.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: The prop of the crane is demolished.]

The Tender sailed to-day at 2 P. M., and next morning at 8, Mr Watt and
five artificers were landed from two boats, and remained on the Rock
till 11, when they had great difficulty in returning to the vessel, as
the wind blew fresh from the N.E. The boats were no sooner hoisted on
board, than, instead of sailing for Arbroath, the Tender was obliged to
steer for Leith Roads, where she lay till the 29th: she then again made
sail for Arbroath; but, from the severity of the weather, was put past
her port, and went into Montrose. When the artificers landed, at this
time, they found that the prop of the lower building-crane had been
demolished during the late gales, and that the stones were scattered
about the Rock in every direction, having done considerable damage to
the contiguous Railways.

[Sidenote: 1809, December.]

[Sidenote: Thursday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers again visit the Rock. A large buoy has drifted.]

The Tender sailed early in the morning of the 14th December for the
Rock, having on board six artificers and twelve seamen, with a supply
of provisions for the Floating-light. The artificers landed in the
evening, and though the tide did not leave the Railways, every thing
appeared to be in the same state as at their former visit. Two of the
large stones which had formed the prop of the crane, had been thrown
forcibly against the Beacon; but it was impossible, under the present
circumstances, to effect their removal. The large buoy placed upon the
spare moorings of the Floating-light, had drifted between the night of
the 9th and the morning of the 10th December, the wind then blowing
hard at S.SW.; and the two spar-beacons, attached to small mushroom
anchors, used as a direction to the western creek, had also been washed
away during the same gale. But, on the whole, no material damage had
been sustained either at the Rock or on board of the Floating-light.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers visit the Rock. Floating-light has had bad

At 3 o’clock this morning, the Tender sailed for the Rock, and carried
off a mushroom-anchor and chain, which were laid down as spare-moorings
for the Floating-light, to be in readiness in case of her accidentally
drifting, as the season would not admit of the old moorings being
grappled for. On landing the artificers, they found every thing much
in the same state as at their former visit, excepting two additional
lengths of the Railways, extending to about eight feet, which had
been broken by the loose stones of the prop of the crane. The crew of
the Floating-light had also experienced some very bad weather, and on
several occasions the ship is represented as having laboured much.
In particular, on the 15th, with the wind at S.E., when in the act
of swinging round to the tide, she was boarded by a heavy sea which
unshipped the boats; and found its way below, in such quantity, that it
extinguished the fires, and created considerable alarm; but the vessel,
being strongly built, and well found in all her materials, sustained no

Having now gone through the journal of the Bell Rock operations for the
year 1809, we shall proceed with a narrative of the works for the year
1810, in the course of which the Bell Rock Light-house was completed.



[Sidenote: 1810, January.]

The shipping establishment connected with the Bell Rock service
during the winter of 1809 and 1810, consisted only of the Pharos
Floating-light and Sir Joseph Banks Tender; the other vessels being
laid up in ordinary. The latter vessel was appointed to carry
artificers to the Rock at spring-tides, for the inspection of the
works, and to repair any small damage that might occur at the
Beacon-house and Railways. She also supplied the Floating-light with
provisions and necessaries, and changed the crew in their respective
turns of leave on shore. The landing-master, Captain Wilson, was the
appointed commander of this vessel; but as he and part of his crew
were occupied constantly at the Rock during the building-season, they
were occasionally relieved from the unpleasant duty of the Pharos, by
such of the officers and seamen belonging to the other ships in the
Light-house service, as were kept in pay during the winter months.

[Sidenote: Friday 5th.]

[Sidenote: The Tender visits the Floating-light and Bell Rock.]

Five artificers from the work-yard at Arbroath were allotted for
visiting the Bell Rock, with Mr Francis Watt, the foreman mill-wright.
They accordingly sailed on one of their trips on the 5th of January
at 12 noon; but the Tender did not reach the Floating-light till
next morning at 1 o’clock. The weather being moderate, a supply of
fuel, water, and provisions, was immediately sent on board, when
Captain Taylor, with Mr William Reid his mate, and four seamen,
shifted to the Tender, and Captain Calder of the Light-house Yacht,
with John Blackwood his mate, and four seamen, took their station in
the Floating-light. The Tender then stood towards the Rock, when the
artificers landed with the boats at 9, and remained till 12 noon,
and in the afternoon, the vessel returned and got into the harbour of
Arbroath; Mr Watt reporting that every thing was in good order.

[Sidenote: Saturday 20th.]

In the same manner, and with similar success, the Floating-light and
Bell Rock were visited on the 20th of this month.

[Sidenote: February.]

[Sidenote: Sunday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers cannot land on the Rock.]

The Tender was in a state of readiness for the spring-tides, on the 5th
of February, but the winds, though westerly, were so stormy, that she
could not go to sea. The weather having moderated on the 11th, though
then the period of neap-tides, she went off to change the crew of the
Floating-light, and supply that ship with necessaries; and afterwards
stood towards the Rock; but as it did not appear above water, a landing
could not be effected, though, from the general aspect of things, the
Beacon and Building were concluded to be in good order, and the vessel
returned to Arbroath on the afternoon of Monday the 12th.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Still prevented from landing.]

The Tender sailed this morning at 5 o’clock, with a fine breeze at
west, having on board the usual complement of artificers, a change of
crew, and a supply of provisions for the Floating-light. At 9 she got
off to the Rock, but the wind, by this time, blew so fresh, that it was
found impracticable to land; every thing, however, about the Building
and Beacon appeared to be in good order. At 11, the Tender stood
towards the Floating-light, and, after considerable difficulty, the
provisions were got on board, and a transfer made of the crews; when
the Tender sailed for Arbroath, and got into the harbour at 4 P. M.,
having been only about eleven hours in making this trip.

[Sidenote: 1810, March.]

[Sidenote: Sunday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: A landing is effected. Large stones drifted upon the Rock.]

At 4 o’clock this morning, the Tender sailed for the Rock with the
wind at N. by E., when the artificers made a landing at half-past 10,
and remained till 1 A. M., having found every thing in good order,
excepting some parts of the Railways, which had received damage from
the movement of a large drift-stone or traveller, estimated to contain
upwards of one ton of rock, which was broken and removed, to prevent
its doing more damage. The building, as high as the daily rise of the
tide, was now covered with a strong growth of sea-weed. On the course,
however, immediately above the Rock, the fuci had been prevented from
taking root from the chips of stone which continually washed about
the building. Some holes in the Rock, near the Beacon, which, in the
year 1807, had been filled with ruble-building, a species of work
rather unexpectedly found to withstand the force of the sea, had in
the late gales been shaken loose, and laid open.--In the course of
the gales of the 25th, 26th, and 27th of March, as is supposed, two
large drift-stones or travellers had done considerable injury to the
Railways. It also appeared, from certain marks upon the beams of the
Beacon, at the height of about five feet above the Rock, that these
stones, containing from seven to ten cubic feet each, or upwards of
half a ton, had actually been lifted by the sea and driven with force
against the Beacon. In the course of these gales, also, the large
cask-buoy, used as the moorings of the Tender, had broken adrift.
During these gales, the Floating-light rolled very heavily, and had
shipped several great seas, but nothing of any consequence happened in
the way of damage to the vessel or her appurtenances.

[Sidenote: Beacon now rendered very secure.]

As the finishing of the Light-house, in the course of next season,
depended wholly upon the stability of the Beacon, every possible
attention was paid to its safety; and it was most satisfactory to
learn, by Mr Watt’s report, that every thing about it continued in good
order. On almost every visit during the two former winters, some of
the bracing-chains were found in a broken state; but since the months
of September and October last, when they were removed, and replaced
with thirty-six great bars of iron bolted to the principal beams, as
shown in Plate VIII., every thing had remained in a state of connected

[Sidenote: Progress of the works at Arbroath.]

The hewing or cutting of the several courses, forming the void of
the Light-house, was also in great forwardness in the work-yard at
Arbroath; and by the latter end of the month of April, the Forty-fourth
course, forming part of the store-room, shewn in the section of Plate
XVI., was laid on the platform, and ready for shipping to the Rock. The
burning and pounding of the Aberthaw lime, and the preparation of other
materials, were also going on.

[Sidenote: 1810, April.]

[Sidenote: Landing on the Rock precarious in Winter.]

The season, though now advanced to the month of April, was still
boisterous. The day, however, was getting long, and the influence of
the sun began to be felt in checking the frosts, which often stopped
both the quarrying operations and the stone-cutters. The lengthening
of the day, as well as moderate weather, was a great regulating
circumstance in the Bell Rock works; for, during the winter months,
only one low-water tide occurred with day-light; and, indeed, in
the depth of winter, there may be said to be no very favourable
opportunity of landing on the Rock, as low-water at new and full moon
happens here about 8 o’clock, which renders the chance of landing
extremely uncertain and precarious.

[Sidenote: Retrospective view of the works. Mylnefield Quarry.]

Previously to entering upon the operations of the season 1810, it
may be proper, in this place, to take a retrospective view of the
various departments of the work. The granite courses of the Bell Rock
Light-house having been completed, for a considerable time, it was
only the sandstone quarries that were to be attended to. As formerly
noticed, the stone of Mylnefield, like that of most quarries which lie
in strata or alternate beds, is liable to split and become useless,
from the effects of frost, owing to the natural sap or moisture which
they contain. Water, being unlike other bodies which follow the general
law of contracting in volume with a reduction of temperature, is found,
on the contrary, to encrease in bulk at the moment of congelation,
producing the most surprising effects in rending rocks, even with an
explosive force. In sandstone quarries, therefore, the work is usually
suspended during the months of December, January, February and March,
when the frost happens to be intense, as was the case in the winter
of 1809-1810, when the thermometer occasionally fell so low as the
17th degree of Fahrenheit. Notwithstanding every precaution in the
work-yard at Arbroath, by covering the quarried materials with straw
and brushwood, many excellent and valuable stones were lost by the
intenseness of the frost. Such, however, was the desire of getting
early forward with the work, in order to insure the completion of the
building operations in the favourable part of the season, that the
writer took the earliest measures for getting an additional supply of
stones from Mylnefield; and, by the beginning of the month of April,
the Smeaton and Patriot, together with the hired sloop Alexander, were
loaded and sent to Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Craigleith Quarry.]

From this description of the nature of the stone of Mylnefield, it
became necessary, for the furtherance of the upper parts of the
Light-house during the winter months, that they should be prepared of
stone which would admit of being worked without much risk of injury
during frosty weather. For the cornice of the building, and the parapet
of the light-room, the writer, therefore, made choice of the Liver-rock
of the Craigleith Quarry, well known for its durability and beauty,
and for its property of not being liable to be affected by frost. By
this means also, the iron-work or frame of the Light-room might be
fitted to the masonry on the spot where it was to be prepared, which
would thereby lessen the actual work upon the Rock. Another advantage
attending this arrangement, was the opportunity it afforded of making
practical trial of the Balance-crane, with which the masonry of the
ensuing season was to be built, as it had been found necessary to make
several alterations on its construction.

[Sidenote: State of the Works at Edinburgh.]

The use of a piece of vacant ground was accordingly got at Greenside,
contiguous to the author’s house, in Edinburgh, where a number of
masons were employed, at the sight of Mr Peter Logan, foreman builder.
A very considerable difficulty was, however, experienced in procuring
so many principal stones of the liver-rock, of the description and
dimensions necessary for the cornice and balcony; the stones of which
also formed the Light-room floor in one length, as will be understood
by examining Plates XIII. and XVI. But, as these works commenced at
Edinburgh in the latter end of October 1809, they were completed
early in the month of March 1810, and the whole of this critical and
difficult part of the building was then ready for shipping to the Bell
Rock. The several compartments of the Light-room were now also in
progress. The sheets of silver-plated copper for the reflectors having
been ordered from Messrs Boulton and Watt,--the glass from the British
Plate-Glass Company,--the cast-iron sash-frames from Mr John Patterson
of the Edinburgh Foundery,--while the construction of the reflectors
and reflecting-apparatus, together with the framing of the whole
Light-room and its appurtenances, were executed under the immediate
directions of Mr Thomas Smith, the writer’s predecessor, who had now
retired from the more active duties of engineer to the Light-house

[Sidenote: Practical conclusions about the period of completing the
Works, and mode of distinguishing the Light.]

Having, in the course of the two last seasons, landed and built
upwards of 1400 tons of stone upon the Bell Rock, while the work was
low in the water, and before the Beacon was habitable, and finding
that it did not now require more than about 700 tons to complete the
masonry, the writer concluded, that, barring accidents of a very
untoward nature, there was every prospect of the Light-house being
finished in the course of the ensuing season. A question, of much
importance, however, still remained in some measure undetermined,
regarding the characteristic description of the light most suitable
for the Bell Rock, so as to render it easily distinguishable from all
others upon the coast. There being Stationary-lights already in the
Frith of Forth; this mode could not be adopted for the Bell Rock.
Revolving-lights had also lately been erected upon the Fearn Islands,
the most contiguous Light-house-station to the southward, as will be
seen from the General Chart of the coast in Plate III. Considering,
therefore, the liability of the mariner to mistake the appearance of
lights in stormy weather, or from an error in his course in returning
from a distant voyage, it was of the last importance that the Bell Rock
Light-house should be easily distinguishable. The most suitable means
for accomplishing this seemed to be by the exhibition of _different
colours_ from the same Light-room. The only colour which had yet been
found to answer, was produced by interposing shades of red glass before
the reflectors. But this was the colour used for distinguishing the
Light of Flamborough-head, on the Yorkshire coast, and, though about
169 miles to the southward, it would still have been desirable to
have avoided the same colour. A train of experiments was therefore
made from Inchkeith Light-house, with plates of glass, coloured red,
green, orange, yellow, blue, and purple, procured from Birmingham
and London. These were fitted to the reflectors at Inchkeith, within
view of the writer’s windows in Edinburgh. The Tender was likewise
appointed to cruise, that more distant observations might be made, for
ascertaining the effect of these coloured shades. But after the most
full and satisfactory trials, the red colour was found to be the only
one applicable to this purpose. In tolerably clear weather, the light
of one reflector tinged red, alternating with a light of the natural
appearance, with intervals of darkness, was easily distinguishable at
the distance of eight or nine miles; while the other colours rendered
the light opaque, being hardly distinguishable to the naked eye at
more than two or three miles. After various trials and observations
made in this manner, both on land and at sea, the writer at length
resolved on recommending the use of red, as the only colour suitable
for this purpose; and, in order to vary the light as much as possible
from that of Flamborough-head, a square Reflector-frame was adopted
at the Bell Rock, with two of its faces or sides having red coloured
shades, and the other two exhibiting lights of the natural appearance.
At Flamborough-head, the Reflector-frame is triangular, and on one side
it is furnished with red coloured shades, while the other two sides
exhibit lights of the natural appearance. The design at the Bell Rock,
on the contrary, was to exhibit a light tinged red, alternating with
one of the natural appearance; and, upon this principle, the apparatus
was put in a state of preparation.

[Sidenote: 1810, March.]

[Sidenote: State of the Works at Arbroath.]

In the work-yard at Arbroath things were going forward very
prosperously, at the sight of Mr David Logan, clerk of works. The
hewing or preparation of the stones for the Light-house was now
advanced to within about eight courses of the cornice, which, with
the parapet, as already observed, was all set up at Edinburgh, and
ready for being shipped when wanted at the Rock. A kiln of the Aberthaw
limestone having already been calcined, was partly reduced to the
state of powder, and put up into casks, as formerly. The operation of
pounding the lime was very tedious and unpleasant, being performed by
labourers upon a stone-bench in the lime-house, where it was reduced
chiefly by means of friction, between the bench and stones, managed
by hand. Due proportions of pozzolano-earth and clean sharp sand were
made up in casks, and the oaken trenails and wedges in bundles; but the
supply wanted of these materials was, in future, to be comparatively
trifling. The building being now considerably above the rise of the
tide, the use of mortar was less, while the system of trenailing and
wedging was to be discontinued, after the building had reached the
top of the stone staircase, or to the height of 13 feet above the
solid. The several implements connected with the building operations
being also laid to hand, nothing was now required but good weather and
favourable tides, to proceed with the works at the Rock.

[Sidenote: Gangway or Bridge for the Rock.]

[Sidenote: 1810, April.]

Among the preparations at Arbroath for the furtherance of the work
at the Bell Rock, was the construction of a gangway or bridge of
timber between the Beacon and the Building, instead of the Rope-ladder
employed with so much effect last season, as will be understood by
examining the second and third years’ work, represented in Plate IX.
This more stable and commodious way of communicating with the works,
was also to be useful as a stage for raising the building materials,
instead of the lower crane, the stool or prop of which had become too
low, and, as before noticed, had been washed away by the sea in the
course of last month. This bridge consisted of two principal beams of
Memel timber, measuring 44 feet in length, 6 inches in thickness, and
13 inches in depth. At one end these beams were to abut against the
principal beams of the Beacon, and to be strongly bolted to them; at
the opposite end, one was to be rested on the sole or instep of the
door, while the other was to be let 6 inches into a hole cut into the
upper granite course of the Light-house. They were placed 7 feet apart,
and formed a roadway of 6 feet in breadth between the rails, which was
strongly bound in a lateral direction with cross framing mortised into
the principal beams, and otherwise fixed with screw-bolts. The bridge
was further to be supported by four diagonal spur-beams, which met in
pairs on each side, at the middle of the roadway, and there formed
king-posts, to steady and support it. A crab or winch-machine was to be
placed upon it, for raising the stones at once from the rock to the
level of the top of the solid part of the building.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 18th.]

[Sidenote: Operations commence for the season. Wooden Bridge is

After making the experiments relative to the distinguishing of the
light, the Tender sailed from Leith Roads on the morning of Tuesday,
the 3d of April, and got into Arbroath on the 6th, where she lay.
Being fitted out for the Rock, with a sufficient stock of water and
provisions, and having also on board the beams and apparatus for the
wooden bridge, she sailed at 1 o’clock this morning, with eleven
masons, three joiners, and two blacksmiths, together with Mr Francis
Watt, foreman, in all seventeen artificers, who were to be employed
during the ensuing spring-tides, in erecting the bridge between the
Beacon and Building. At 3 P. M. she was made fast to the new moorings,
which had been laid down for her in lieu of those which had drifted
on the 26th of March; but the weather was then so boisterous, that no
landing could be made on the Rock till the following morning, at 6
o’clock, when they commenced the operations of the season by laying the
deals of the mortar-gallery, or lowest floor of the Beacon. Although
the weather continued to be extremely boisterous till the 23d, the
Tender’s marine barometer oscillating between 29.05 and 29.60, yet
the wind being westerly, the artificers were enabled to pursue their
operations by landing daily; for, upon this occasion, the Beacon was
not taken possession of, and they returned at night to the Tender.
On the 24th the weather became very fine; the barometer remaining
for several days at about 30.10. The work now proceeded with so much
alacrity and dispatch, that by the 28th the fixing of the bridge was
completed, and the Tender returned with all hands to Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Monday, 23d.]

[Sidenote: Charles Gray gets one of his fingers severely bruised.]

While the Tender waited the operations of the artificers at the Rock,
the Smeaton made two trips to it, and laid down six sets of moorings
with their floating-buoys, so that every thing was now in a state of
readiness for the commencement of the works. When unloading these
moorings, Charles Gray, a seaman, unfortunately got one of his fingers
so bruised between the hatchway of the ship and a mushroom-anchor, that
it was found necessary to amputate part of it.

[Sidenote: 1810, May.]

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 1st.]

[Sidenote: The Writer proceeds for the Rock, to begin building for the

The Smeaton having come to Leith for the Balance-crane, the writer
sailed this afternoon with her for the Bell Rock, to commence the
building operations for the season. The weather, for the last eight
days, had been extremely stormy, and, though still unfavourable,
yet, being moderate, hopes were entertained that she would soon make
her way down the Frith of Forth. After beating to windward for a day
and a night, however, she was obliged to bear away for Burntisland
Roads, where he left the vessel, to pursue his journey by land to
Arbroath, accompanied by Mr James Dove, foreman-smith, to whom
particularly the change in the mode of travelling was a great relief,
as, notwithstanding his having had considerable practice at sea, he was
still a great martyr to sickness, and even felt a dislike for every
thing connected with a ship, which was strongly marked by the following
trifling occurrence. On leaving the Smeaton, Captain Pool, presenting
the bread-basket to Mr Dove, observed, that, although he could not eat
on board, he might perhaps be thankful of a biscuit when he got on
shore; on which Mr Dove gravely replied, that “it would be long to the
day before he would be thankful for a _sea-biscuit_.” The object of his
journey at this time was to fit up the Balance-crane on the top of the
building, and to superintend its operation for a time on the Rock. This
useful implement had been constructed in the course of last season, but
was not then found to be in a sufficiently serviceable state. It was
accordingly new-modelled, and, though an opportunity had been afforded
of making trial of it at Edinburgh, in raising the weighty stones of
the cornice and balcony of the Light-house, yet the writer wished Mr
Dove also to fit it at the Bell Rock. They reached Arbroath on the
evening of the 3d.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 5th.]

[Sidenote: The Tender is ready for sea.]

The Smeaton arrived at Arbroath to-day with the Balance-crane, which
was immediately put on board of the Tender, now ready to proceed
for the Rock with the first good weather. The Smeaton then took on
board the stone ballast, and platform, laid in her hold for the
greater conveniency of stowing and discharging the prepared stones of
the building. The wind had now changed to the S.W., and hopes were
entertained of a return of good weather. But this being the period
of neap-tides, and considering that it might be three or four months
before some of the artificers again returned to the shore, as the
Beacon was now habitable, it was intimated to them on Saturday, that
the Tender would not sail till Monday. They accordingly attended church
to-day, with their wonted decency of deportment.

[Sidenote: Monday, 7th.]

[Sidenote: Writer sails with the Artificers for the Rock.]

The artificers having been warned to take their quarters on board of
the Tender last night, the writer sailed this morning from Arbroath
at half-past 2, accompanied by Mr Peter Logan, foreman builder,
Mr Francis Watt, foreman mill-wright, and Mr James Dove, foreman
smith, together with sixteen artificers, and the regular crew of the
vessel, in all counting thirty-two persons; but the Tender having
the Hedderwick praam-boat in tow, went slowly off. At 12 noon the
Floating-light was hailed, when Captain Wilson, the landing-master,
came on board, to take his station for the season, and at 1 P. M.
the Tender was made fast to her moorings at the Bell Rock. The
praam-boat was immediately hauled alongside, and the apparatus of the
Balance-crane laid upon her deck, when she was towed to her moorings,
there being too much sea at this time, for attempting to land upon the
Rock. As the barometer stood at 30.04, hopes were entertained that the
weather would soon improve.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: Landing impracticable.]

The wind was at east to-day, and the sea still broke so heavily upon
the Rock, that no landing could be made. At high-water, the spray was
observed to fly considerably above the building, perhaps not less than
20 feet, in all about 50 feet above the Rock, while the seas were
raging and breaking among the beams of the Beacon with much violence.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: The Praam-boats ride easily.]

The same boisterous state of the weather still continued, and the
sea-swell was nothing abated to-day, so that no landing could yet be
made upon the Rock. The landing-master, however, went in a boat, and
examined the Praam-boat at her moorings, where every thing was found
in good order. It is here worthy of remark, that while the Tender and
Floating-light rolled much, and occasionally shipped pretty heavy seas,
the praam, with a cargo of about three tons on board, was perfectly dry
upon deck, and to use the seamen’s expression, “rode as easily as an
old shoe.”

[Sidenote: Thursday, 10th.]

[Sidenote: State of the Building.]

The wind had shifted to-day to W.NW., when the writer, with
considerable difficulty, was enabled to land upon the Rock, for the
first time this season, at 10 A. M. Upon examining the state of the
Building, and Apparatus in general, he had the satisfaction to find
every thing in good order. The mortar in all the joints was perfectly
entire. The building, now 30 feet in height, was thickly coated with
_fuci_ to the height of about 15 feet, calculating from the Rock: on
the eastern side, indeed, the growth of sea-weed was observable to the
full height of 30 feet, and even on the top or upper bed of the last
laid course, especially towards the eastern side, it had germinated,
so as to render walking upon it somewhat difficult. The smith’s forge,
which had been removed from the mortar-gallery to the top of the
Building, in the month of September last, to give more accommodation to
the works of the joiners, was left there for the season,--the bellows
excepted, which were kept under cover in the Beacon throughout the
winter; and, it is not a little remarkable, that, although the sea had
risen to a considerable height, and fallen in great quantities upon the
top of the building; yet such was the centrical position of the forge,
that it remained quite entire: even the spar of timber, and the small
cords which had been stretched for steadying it, and forming an awning
of about 8 feet in diameter, for sheltering the smith, were also still
in their places. This was a proof that no very heavy seas had broken
so high as the top of the solid, otherwise the forge and the apparatus
for supporting the awning, must have long since been swept away by the
breach of the sea.

[Sidenote: State of the Beacon.]

The Beacon-house was in a perfectly sound state, and apparently just as
it had been left in the month of November. But the tides being neap,
the lower parts, particularly where the beams rested on the Rock,
could not now be seen. The great iron-bars, however, which measure
3 inches square, and from 7 to 9 feet in length, stretching between
the principal beams, in place of the bracing chains, which were found
constantly liable to break and unscrew, were in view, and in good
order. The whole frame of this fabric was now in a firm and secure
state. The floor of the mortar-gallery having been already laid down
by Mr Watt and his men on a former visit, was merely soaked with the
sprays; but the joisting-beams which supported it had, in the course
of the winter, been covered with a fine downy conferva, produced by
the range of the sea. They were also a good deal whitened with the
mute of the cormorant and other sea-fowls, which had roosted upon the
Beacon in winter. Upon ascending to the apartments, it was found that
the motion of the sea had thrown open the door of the cook-house:
this was only shut with a simple latch, that, in case of shipwreck
at the Bell Rock, the mariner might find ready access to the shelter
of this forlorn habitation, where a supply of provisions was kept;
and being within two miles and a half of the Floating-light, a signal
could readily be observed, when a boat might be sent to his relief
as soon as the weather permitted. An arrangement for this purpose
formed one of the Instructions on board of the Floating-light, but
happily no instance occurred for putting it in practice. The hearth or
fire-place of the cook-house was built of brick, in as secure a manner
as possible, to prevent accident from fire; but some of the plaster
work had shaken loose, from its damp state, and the tremulous motion
of the Beacon in stormy weather. The writer next ascended to the floor
which was occupied by the cabins of himself, and his assistants, which
were in tolerably good order, having only a damp and musty smell.
The barrack for the artificers over all, was next visited: it had
now a very dreary and deserted appearance, when its former thronged
state was recollected. In some parts, the water had come through the
boarding, and had discoloured the lining of green cloth, but it was,
nevertheless, in a good habitable condition. While the seamen were
employed in landing a stock of provisions, a few of the artificers
set to work, with great eagerness, to sweep and clean the several
apartments. The exterior of the Beacon was, in the mean time, examined,
and found in perfect order. The painting, though it had a somewhat
blanched appearance, adhered firmly both on the sides and roof, and
only two or three panes of glass were broken in the cupola, which had
either been blown out by the force of the wind, or perhaps broken by

[Sidenote: Thursday, 10th.]

[Sidenote: State of the Timber Bridge.]

Having, on this occasion, continued upon the building and beacon a
considerable time, after the tide had begun to flow, the artificers
were occupied in removing the forge from the top of the building, to
which the gangway or wooden bridge gave great facility; and, although
it stretched or had a span of 42 feet, its construction was extremely
simple, while the roadway was perfectly firm and steady. In returning
from this visit to the Rock, every one was pretty well soused in spray,
before reaching the Tender at 2 o’clock P. M., where things awaited the
landing party in as comfortable a way as such a situation would admit.

[Sidenote: Friday, 11th.]

[Sidenote: Balance-crane landed. Position of the Entrance-door.]

The wind was still easterly, accompanied with rather a heavy swell of
sea, for the operations in hand. A landing was, however, made this
morning, when the artificers were immediately employed in scraping the
sea-weed off the upper course of the building, in order to apply the
moulds of the first course of the staircase, that the joggle-holes
might be marked off in the upper course of the solid, which, as
formerly, had not been done to the finishing course of the season. This
was also necessary previously to the writer’s fixing the position of
the entrance-door, which was regulated chiefly by the appearance of the
growth of the sea-weed on the building, indicating the direction of
the heaviest seas, on the opposite side of which the door was placed.
The landing-master’s crew succeeded in towing into the creek on the
western side of the Rock, the praam-boat, with the balance-crane, which
had now been on board of the praam for five days. The several pieces of
this machine having been conveyed along the Railways upon the waggons,
to a position immediately under the bridge, were elevated to its level,
or thirty feet above the Rock, in the following manner. A chain-tackle
was suspended over a pulley from the cross-beam, connecting the
tops of the king-posts of the bridge, which was worked by a
winch-machine, with wheel, pinion and barrel, round which last the
chain was wound. This apparatus was placed on the Beacon-side of the
bridge, at the distance of about twelve feet from the cross beam and
pulley in the middle of the bridge. Immediately under the cross-beam
a hatch was formed in the roadway of the bridge, measuring 7 feet in
length and 5 feet in breadth, made to shut with folding boards like a
double-door, through which stones and other articles were raised; the
folding-doors were then let down, and the stone or load was gently
lowered upon a waggon which was wheeled on railway tracks towards the
Light-house. In this manner, the several castings of the balance-crane
were got up to the top of the solid of the building.

[Sidenote: Artificers take possession of the Beacon.]

The several apartments of the Beacon-house having been cleaned out and
supplied with bedding, a sufficient stock of provisions was put into
the store, when Peter Fortune, formerly noticed, lighted his fire in
the Beacon, for the first time this season. Sixteen artificers, at the
same time, mounted to their barrack-room, and the foremen of the works
also took possession of their cabin, all heartily rejoiced at getting
rid of the trouble of boating, and the sickly motion of the Tender. The
boats had landed on the Rock this morning at 9, and the writer left
it again with the landing-master and his crew at 3 P. M., and went on
board of the Tender for the night, after having seen some progress made
in setting up the balance-crane.

[Sidenote: Smeaton arrives with the first cargo.]

The Smeaton having been loaded at Arbroath with the first cargo of
stones, consisting of thirty-eight blocks of the Twenty-seventh course,
got to her moorings at the Bell Rock this morning, and was made fast,
though not without considerable difficulty. But, nothing could be done
towards delivering her until the balance-crane was got into a working

[Sidenote: Saturday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: No communication with the Rock.]

The wind was at E.NE., blowing so fresh, and accompanied with so much
sea, that no stones could be landed to-day. The people on the Rock,
however, were busily employed in screwing together the balance-crane,
cutting out the joggle-holes in the upper course, and preparing all
things for commencing the building operations.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 13th.]

[Sidenote: Balance-crane ready for use.]

The weather still continues boisterous, although the barometer has all
the while stood at about 30 inches. Towards evening, the wind blew so
fresh at E. by S., that the boats both of the Smeaton and Tender were
obliged to be hoisted in, and it was feared that the Smeaton would
have to slip her moorings. The people on the Rock were seen busily
employed, and had the balance-crane apparently ready for use, but no
communication could be had with them to-day.

[Sidenote: Theory of the land and sea breeze exemplified.]

The wind had now prevailed long from the eastward, and it was remarked
on board of the Tender, that, in moderate weather, it generally
inclined from the northward in the mornings, and from the eastward
and southward, as the sun advanced to the meridian; in this respect,
resembling the land and sea breezes, familiar to those acquainted with
tropical climates. This phenomenon is accounted for, by considering
the state of the inland country, where the Grampian-hills lie about 20
miles northward from the coast, thickly covered with snow. The winds,
therefore, in the early part of the day, generally came from these
colder regions, towards the milder and somewhat more rare atmosphere of
the sea. But in the after part of the day, the heat of the sun, acting
more powerfully upon the arable lands and objects in the fore-ground of
this mountainous range, rarified the air more highly upon the shores
than on the sea, which produced a tendency in the winds to blow towards
the land. Extending this view of the subject to the great tracts of
snow-covered mountains, in the north-eastern districts of Europe, it
is natural to suppose that the current of the winds will be from these
colder regions towards the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Hence the
prevailing winds in the spring of the year are from the eastward, in
their passage across Great Britain to the Atlantic.

[Sidenote: Monday, 14th.]

[Sidenote: Smeaton slips her moorings.]

The wind continued to blow so fresh, and the Smeaton rode so heavily
with her cargo, that at noon a signal was made for her getting under
way, when she stood towards Arbroath; and, on board of the Tender, we
are still without any communication with the people on the Rock; where
the sea was seen breaking over the top of the building in great sprays,
and ranging with much agitation among the beams of the Beacon.

[Sidenote: Tuesday 15th.]

[Sidenote: Returns to the Rock.]

The Smeaton did not go into Arbroath last night, as the appearance of
a northerly or land breeze induced the active spirit of Captain Pool
to stand off again for the Bell Rock; but he had no sooner reached his
moorings at 5 o’clock this morning, than the wind again shifted to the
S.E., and he could not get hold of the ring of the Floating-buoy of his
moorings, and was, therefore, obliged to return again towards Arbroath.
There was still no communication between the Tender and the Rock, as
the sea continued to run very heavily upon it.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 16th.]

[Sidenote: Is driven to Leith Roads.]

The wind had shifted to the N.E. this morning, and hopes were
entertained that it might take a more northerly direction, but it
continued without change, and for two or three days past the Barometer
had been falling, and was now at 29.50. It was, therefore, still
impossible to land upon the Rock. The appearance of the weather
brought the Smeaton out of the harbour, Captain Pool having become
very impatient to get his first cargo landed; but, on his arrival,
instead of being able to make fast to his moorings, the writer found it
necessary to direct him to proceed for Leith Roads, as the proper place
for the vessel in the present state of the weather.

[Sidenote: Thursday 17th.]

[Sidenote: Patriot sent to the quarry for the last cargo of stones.]

[Sidenote: People at the Rock experience boisterous weather.]

The Smeaton had no sooner reached the Frith last night, and anchored
in Leith Roads, than the wind came round to the north, and Pool,
without delay, once more weighed anchor and sailed for the Bell Rock,
which he reached this morning. The Patriot, at the same time, came off
from Arbroath with water, fuel, and provisions for the supply of the
Floating-light, the Tender, and Beacon-house, and after discharging
these, she proceeded for Mylnefield Quarry, for the last cargo of
stones wanted for the Bell Rock Light-house. On this trip the writer
had great pleasure in dispatching her, as this state of things greatly
narrowed the operations. The wind, in the course of the day, had
shifted from north to west; the sea being also considerably less,
a boat landed on the Rock at 6 P. M., for the first time since the
11th, with the provisions and water brought off by the Patriot. The
inhabitants of the Beacon were all well, but tired above measure for
want of employment, as the balance-crane and apparatus was all in
readiness. Under these circumstances, they felt no less desirous of the
return of good weather than those afloat, who were continually tossed
with the agitation of the sea. The writer, in particular, felt himself
almost as much fatigued and worn out as he had been at any period since
the commencement of the work. The very backward state of the weather
at so advanced a period of the season, unavoidably created some alarm,
lest he should be overtaken with bad weather, at a late period of the
season, with the building operations in an unfinished state. These
apprehensions were, no doubt, rather increased by the inconveniences
of his situation afloat, as the Tender rolled and pitched excessively
at times. This being also his first off-set for the season, every bone
of his body felt sore, with preserving a sitting posture, while he
endeavoured to pass away the time in reading; as for writing it was
wholly impracticable. He had several times entertained thoughts of
leaving the station for a few days, and going into Arbroath with the
Tender till the weather should improve; but, as the artificers had
been landed on the Rock, he was averse to this at the commencement
of the season, knowing also that he would be equally uneasy in every
situation, till the first cargo was landed; and he, therefore, resolved
to continue at his post until this should be effected.

[Sidenote: State of lower parts of the Beacon. Effects of marine

At low-water to-day, an opportunity was afforded of examining the lower
parts of the Beacon-house. The kneed Bats, or great iron stanchions,
employed for fixing the principal beams to the Rock, which will be
seen by examining Plate VIII., were found in good order, without the
least appearance of movement or decay. The same observation is also
applicable to the exterior of the principal beams of the Beacon,
wherever the charring of the timber and successive coats of boiling
pitch had been applied; but at the foot or sole of the respective
beams, where they rested upon a site cut for them upon the rock,
where the pitch could not be applied, the _òniscus_ or _vermis_ so
destructive to timber exposed to the wash of the sea, had made a
considerable impression, and the beams were found to be hollowed out.
In several instances, they even stood clear of the Rock, depending only
upon the stanchions and bolts for their support. The circumstance of
these vermes attacking the sole of the beams, had not been anticipated,
otherwise preventive means might have been adopted, by sheathing them
with copper, especially where they rested on the Rock.

[Sidenote: Friday, 18th.]

[Sidenote: 23 blocks of stone landed and raised with the new tackle.]

The company of artificers, lodged on the Beacon, having been increased
from sixteen to twenty-two, their time hang very heavily on their
hands, till the stones were landed on the Rock. The wind being now
N.W., the sea was considerably run down, and this morning at 5 o’clock,
the landing-master’s crew, thirteen in number, left the Tender; and
having now no detention with the landing of artificers, they proceeded
to unmoor the Hedderwick Praam-boat, and towed her alongside of the
Smeaton; and in the course of the day, twenty-three blocks of stone,
three casks of pozzolano, three of sand, three of lime, and one of
Roman cement, together with three bundles of trenails, and three of
wedges, were all landed on the Rock and raised to the top of the
building, by means of the tackle suspended from the cross-beam on the
middle of the bridge. The stones were then moved along the bridge on
the waggon to the building, within reach of the balance-crane, with
which they were laid in their respective places on the building. The
masons immediately thereafter proceeded to bore the trenail holes into
the course below, and otherwise to complete the one in hand. When the
first stone was to be suspended by the balance-crane, the bell on the
Beacon was rung, and all the artificers and seamen were collected on
the building. Three hearty cheers were given while it was lowered into
its place, and the steward served round a glass of rum, when success
was drank to the further progress of the building.

[Sidenote: One of the stones in danger from the breaking of a bolt.]

Having thus had the satisfaction of finding that the bridge and its
apparatus answered every purpose for raising the materials; that the
balance-crane was no less suitable for building the stones, which, from
their dove-tailed form, as before noticed, required that they should be
slipped or laid perpendicularly into their sites; and the artificers
being now comfortably lodged in the Beacon-house, there hardly remained
a doubt that the Bell Rock Light-house would be completed in the course
of the current year. It often happens, however, that accidents occur
on the first trial of machinery; and, accordingly, in shifting the
wheel and pinion work of the winch-machine upon the bridge, from the
single to the double-purchase, in order to raise a pretty heavy stone,
the bolt of the bush gave way, just as the stone had attained its
full height, and was about to be lowered on the bridge-waggon, to be
moved within the sphere of the balance-crane. The fall of the stone,
though only from a height of 8 or 9 inches, communicated a sudden
shock throughout the Beacon-house, and produced an alarm among the
workmen for the moment. Had this accident occurred before the waggon
was wheeled under the stone, in all probability it would have killed
some of those who were at work below upon the Rock; besides breaking
the stone and the railway, which must have stopped the work for a
considerable time, until another stone could have been prepared and
sent from the work-yard at Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: 15 stones landed.]

The Smeaton having been completely discharged last night, sailed at
10 P. M. for Arbroath, to load a second cargo for the Bell Rock.
The Patriot had towed off the Dickie Praam-boat to-day, being of a
somewhat smaller size, and more handy than the Fernie, which now lay
in ordinary, at Arbroath, in case of accident to the Hedderwick or
Dickie. The wind, however, being rather unsteady, it was feared that no
materials would have been landed; but Captain Wilson, with his usual
dexterity and skill, succeeded in transporting fifteen stones, which
were raised to the top of the building, by means of the tackle on the
bridge, and built by the balance-crane with wonderful facility.

[Sidenote: Smeaton makes rapid trips.]

This morning at 1 o’clock, the Smeaton got into Arbroath, when Mr
Kennedy, engineer’s clerk, had the artificers immediately called, who
loaded her with the Twenty-eighth course of the building, consisting of
thirty-three pieces of stone, besides six casks of pozzolano, six casks
of lime, six casks of sand, four bundles of trenails, four bundles of
wedges, and eight stone joggles, together with four logs of timber, one
Railway-waggon, and a supply of water, beer, fuel and provisions for
the Beacon-house. At 2 P. M. she sailed again for the Bell Rock, and
reached it at 5, to the surprise of every one, Captain Pool being no
less active in his trips than Mr Kennedy was zealous in the dispatch
given at the work-yard.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: Prayers first read on the Light-house.]

The wind was southerly to-day, but there was much less sea than
yesterday, and the landing-master’s crew were enabled to discharge
and land twenty-three pieces of stone, and other articles for the
work. The artificers had completed the laying of the Twenty-seventh or
First course of the staircase this morning, and in the evening, they
finished the boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting with it mortar.
At 12 o’clock noon, the Beacon-house bell was rung, and all hands were
collected on the top of the building, where prayers were read, for the
first time, on the Light-house, which forcibly struck every one, and
had, upon the whole, a very impressive effect. The artificers then went
to their barrack to dinner, and the landing-master’s crew went off to
the Tender. In the afternoon, the remainder of the Smeaton’s cargo was
discharged, and she sailed for Arbroath at 11 P. M.

[Sidenote: Monday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Active exertions of the landing-master’s crew.]

The Patriot had arrived at Arbroath with the last cargo of stones from
Mylnefield Quarry for the Light-house, on the 19th, and was fully
discharged to-day, and was now fitting with her ballast and platform
for carrying off the worked materials to the Rock. The wind being at
south, caused a considerable swell on the Rock, and it was with great
difficulty that the landing-master got the remaining ten stones of the
Smeaton’s last cargo landed from the Hedderwick. His crew were not
only completely drenched, but were much exhausted with the fatigue of
pulling the loaded praam-boat against the swell of the sea; and on
reaching the Rock, it required their utmost exertions to prevent her
from driving to leeward upon the rugged ledges which encumbered the
eastern creek.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 22d.]

[Sidenote: Thirty-first course completed.]

The dispatch made by the Smeaton in performing her trips between
Arbroath and the Bell Rock, was quite surprising, being seldom more
than one day absent. On the last trip, for example, she had only left
the Rock on Sunday night at 11, and this morning at 8 o’clock, she
returned to her moorings with thirty-five pieces of stone. Of these,
seventeen were landed to-day, with which the Thirty-first course of the
building was completed, and the remainder of the day was occupied in
boring the trenail holes in the lower course, fixing the trenails and
wedges, and grouting the whole carefully with mortar.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 23d.]

The Patriot arrived at the Rock this morning, with her first cargo of
building materials for the season, consisting of 42 stones, together
with a supply of pozzolano, lime, sand, wedges, trenails, and 8 stone
joggles. The Smeaton was completely discharged of her cargo, and sailed
again at 2 P. M., when the writer took his passage with her to Arbroath.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: Arrangements for conduct of the work, and safety of the

The weather continued moderate at the Rock, with the wind at west, and
18 stones of the Patriot’s cargo were landed and built to-day. The
Accounts connected with the Light-house service were collected at this
period, being paid at the terms of Whitsunday and Martinmas. The writer
at the same time arranged some matters more fully in the work-yard,
connected with the loading of the materials at Arbroath. In particular,
Mr David Logan, clerk of works, was held responsible for providing
every thing contained in the Requisition of the foreman-builder; while
Mr Kennedy, engineer’s clerk, was answerable for the other parts of
the respective Requisitions from the Tender and Beacon, and for the
dispatch given in the loading and sailing of the vessels. The masters
of the stone-vessels were accordingly directed, on their arrival by
night or day, to deliver all letters at the office. In the same manner,
before leaving the Rock, Regulations for the proper conduct of the
works there, were also instituted; where his assistants were also
held responsible for the duties of their several departments; Mr Peter
Logan, for the execution of the masonry; Mr Francis Watt, for the good
condition of the Beacon-house, Railways, and Machinery; Captain Wilson,
for the state of the Praams and other boats employed in the landing of
materials, and for the safety of the stones and building-materials in
transporting them from the ship’s hold till they were placed upon the
waggons on the Rock. The steward, Mr John Peters, was answerable for
making the necessary Requisitions for a sufficient stock of provisions,
water and fuel; while Captain Taylor, master of the Tender, was to see
a proper stock of these articles landed and kept in store upon the
Rock. From the hazardous situation of the Beacon-house with regard to
fire, being composed wholly of timber, there was no small risk from
accident; and on this account, one of the most steady of the artificers
was appointed to see that the fire of the cooking-house, and the lights
in general, were carefully extinguished at stated hours.

[Sidenote: Friday, 25th.]

The weather continued to be extremely fine, with the wind at west,
and the barometer standing about 30 inches. The landing operations
proceeded briskly, so that the building was to-day ready for the

[Sidenote: Saturday, 26th.]

[Sidenote: Balance-crane shaft is broken.]

The door-lintel being of large dimensions, equal to about a ton
and a half in weight, and considerably heavier than any of the
other stones of this course, in raising it with the balance-crane,
sufficient attention had not been paid to increase the balance-weight
proportionally, and an unequal strain being then brought upon the
opposite arms of the crane, the upright shaft yielded, and broke at one
of the joints; fortunately no person was hurt, though a stop was put
to the work for the present. This unlucky accident happened about 4 in
the afternoon, when the Patriot, then at her moorings, discharging a
cargo of stones, was immediately dispatched to Arbroath with the broken
shaft, where she arrived about 2 o’clock on Sunday morning. The writer
was at this early hour rather alarmed, by Captain Macdonald knocking
at his bed-room door, and calling out in a hollow tone, “that the
Balance-crane had given way.” An express was immediately sent for Mr
James Dove, who, only two days prior to the accident, had left the Bell
Rock, and was in the neighbourhood of Arbroath, and when the messenger
reached him, he was preparing to go with his friends to the church of
his native parish.

[Sidenote: The Writer is welcomed in at the door of the Light-house.]

The shaft of this crane consisted of four hollow pipes of cast iron,
in lengths, the lower one of 8 feet, and the three upper ones of 6
feet, fitted to each other with a flush or square joint, so that the
body of the crane might traverse upon them without interruption, as
will be understood by examining Plate XVII. There was, unavoidably,
a degree of weakness at these joints, which required considerable
precaution in shifting or adjusting the balance-weight, according to
the strain occasioned by a heavy stone. This accident, though speedily
repaired, produced a delay of no less than three days to the building
operations, which, together with the time occupied in making provision
for a new method of inserting the door-hinges into the building, made
this part of the masonry, upon the whole, appear extremely tedious.
Having got the door-lintel laid, the writer was not a little gratified
on being welcomed, with acclamation, in at the Door of the Bell Rock
Light-house. Limited as the height of the building still was, the
formation of the door stamped a new character upon it, and the lintel
gave it an additional appearance of strength.

[Sidenote: Fixtures of the hinges of the door and window-shutters.]

The fixtures of the hinges of the door and shutters of the windows are
of a peculiar construction, as will be seen in the different diagrams
of Plate XIX. They consisted of boxes or cases made of brass, of a
dovetailed form, measuring 16 inches in length, and 1 inch in depth
in the void; one of these cases was inserted into a cavity cut in
the upper bed of one of the rybat-stones on each side of the door or
window, and run up with melted lead. Into this case the dovetail-end of
the hinge was afterwards introduced, and fixed in its place by driving
a middle-piece, after the manner of a Lewis-bat. The advantage of this
method is, that, in the event of its being found necessary, at any
future period, to renew or repair a hinge, all that becomes necessary
is to draw the middle-piece and extract the Lewis from the box, without
requiring to cut or mangle the building, as would be found necessary by
the usual method of inserting hinges into walls. The hinges and cases
were made of fine brass; those for the door weighing 50 lb., and those
for the window-shutters being smaller, weighed about half as much.

[Sidenote: 1810, June.]

[Sidenote: Friday, 1st.]

The weather, during the last week of the month of May, was very
favourable for the operations; and the barometer stood to-day at no
less than 30 inches and 42 hundred parts. The wind was S.E., and the
atmosphere somewhat foggy, but not such as to prevent the landing
operations from going forward. The Patriot was now at her moorings
discharging; and the landing-master’s crew transported one of the
praam-boats to the Rock with 14 stones, which enabled the builders to
complete the Thirty-third course, being the one immediately above the
door-lintel, consisting of 32 stones.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 2d.]

[Sidenote: Shipping makes great dispatch.]

The weather still continuing to be extremely fine, the landing-master
and his crew left the Tender at 4 A. M., and proceeded to deliver the
remainder of the Patriot’s cargo, consisting of 14 stones, with a
proportion of pozzolano, lime, sand, and Roman cement, together with
six bundles of trenails and wedges. She then made sail for Arbroath,
and the Smeaton at the same time arrived with the Thirty-fourth course,
consisting also of 32 stones. She had previously put a new cable
on board of the Floating-light, this being the period at which her
winter-tackle was annually shifted. The Smeaton got to her moorings
at 11 A. M., when Captain Wilson and his crew immediately proceeded
to deliver her, and by 4 in the afternoon she was cleared, and had
sailed again for Arbroath to load, having thus been discharged in five
hours, being the shortest period in which any cargo had hitherto been
delivered at the Bell Rock. This formed a striking contrast with the
delivery of the first cargo of the season, which had been on board
from the 18th till the 29th of May, or eleven days, in the course of
which the Smeaton was put thrice into Arbroath, and once up to Leith
Roads, shewing how very dependent these works are upon the state of
the weather. To-day there were no fewer than 56 pieces of stones
transported to the Rock, being the greatest number hitherto landed in
one day.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: Patriot makes a trip in 33 hours.]

The dispatch given in the loading department at Arbroath was nothing
short of that of the landing at the Rock. The Patriot only got to the
Light-house loading-birth last night at 11 P. M., when Mr Kennedy
commenced loading her at midnight, with 34 pieces of stone, 9 stone
joggles, two casks of pozzolano, two casks of lime, two casks of sand,
and three bundles of trenails and wedges: she sailed again at 4 A.
M., and got fast to her moorings at 5 in the afternoon, having been
absent from the Rock only 33 hours. The landing-master’s crew towed
the Hedderwick praam-boat alongside, and loaded her with 18 pieces of
stone, which were safely landed on the Rock. At 11 P. M. the boats
returned to the Tender, having been at work since 4 o’clock this
morning. The weather was so inviting at this time, that, contrary to
usual practice, a quantity of the stones was laid upon the Rock round
the western side of the building, which were afterwards raised by the
purchase-tackle on the bridge: the building was thus continued for
a longer period than the tide permitted the landing-master’s crew
to proceed with their operations. Some risk, however, attended this
arrangement, as part of the stones were necessarily left on the Rock,
exposed to the wash of the sea, from one tide to another. But the
workmen being now permanently on the Rock, this could scarcely happen
to a great extent, as the sea generally takes a tide or two to get
into so rough a state as to be dangerous in cases of this kind. The
Thirty-fifth course was laid to-day, consisting of 32 pieces of stone;
but it required the work to be continued from 5 in the morning till
8 in the evening, before the trenailing, wedging, and grouting with
mortar, were completed; the artificers having of course pay for their
extra hours.

[Sidenote: Monday, 4th.]

[Sidenote: Thirty-sixth course laid.]

To-day there was a strong breeze of wind from the east, with hazy
weather, but, as the mercury still maintained the high state of 30.32,
every confidence was felt in the landing operations. The Patriot was
accordingly discharged of the remainder of her cargo, and 16 stones,
with other building materials, were landed on the Rock, though not
without considerable difficulty, from the heavy swell of sea which was
running upon it. The artificers also succeeded in building all the
stones which were on the Rock, and finished the Thirty-sixth course,
consisting of 24 blocks.

[Sidenote: The King’s birth-day observed.]

This being the Birth-day of our much revered Sovereign King GEORGE
III., now in the Fiftieth year of his reign, the shipping of the
Light-house service were this morning decorated with colours according
to the taste of their respective captains. Flags were also hoisted upon
the Beacon-house and Balance-crane on the top of the Building. At 12
noon, a salute was fired from the Tender, when the King’s health was
drunk, with all the honours, both on the Rock, and on board of the

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 5th.]

[Sidenote: Stair-case completed.]

[Sidenote: Rate of Wages.]

The weather still continuing very favourable for the operations, the
work proceeded with much regularity and dispatch. Twenty stones were
landed to-day from the Smeaton, and the artificers completed the
Thirty-eighth or finishing course of the staircase, which brought the
building to the height of 45 feet. As the walls were here reduced
from 5 feet 9 inches to 3 feet 2 inches in thickness, the scarsement
at the level of this course formed a kind of floor or bench 2 feet 7
inches in breadth, at the top of the staircase, intended for keeping
the water-cisterns, fuel, and provisions. The laying of this course
being attended with a good deal of additional trouble, the artificers
were occupied with it from 5 o’clock in the morning till 8 in the
evening, when all hands being collected on the building, three hearty
cheers were given, and a dram served out, at the completion of the
first floor. During this season, nine hours were counted a day’s work
at the Bell Rock, instead of three hours of tide-work, as in the early
stages of the business. The artificers having, therefore, had six extra
hours to-day, at the rate of 6d. per hour, each had 3s. per day to
receive, in addition to his stated wages of 3s. 4d.; and, as the work
was continued on Sundays, they were now making upwards of two guineas
per week, free of incumbrance, while the foremen were in the receipt of
about double that sum. The inhabitants of the Beacon were consequently
in great spirits, both at the satisfactory progress of the work, and at
the amount of their extra wages.

[Sidenote: Progress of the Works at Edinburgh.]

While the work thus proceeded at the Bell Rock, it was making also
good progress at Arbroath, as the whole of the courses, excepting
three, were now ready for shipping to the Rock. Advice was also
received from Edinburgh, that the Light-room Reflecting-apparatus and
Revolving-machinery were getting regularly forward, so that every
prospect was afforded of the work being brought to a conclusion in the
course of the season.

[Sidenote: Artificers liable to accident. Small Boat and Life-buoy

As the Light-house advanced in height, the cubical contents of the
stones were less, but they had to be raised to a greater height;
and the walls being thinner were less commodious for the necessary
machinery, and the artificers employed, which considerably retarded
the work. Inconvenience was also occasionally experienced from the men
dropping their coats, hats, mallets, and other tools, at high-water,
which were carried away by the tide; and the danger to the people
themselves was now greatly increased. Had any of them fallen from the
Beacon or Building at high-water, while the landing-master’s crew were
generally engaged with the craft at a distance, it must have rendered
the accident doubly painful to those on the Rock, who at this time had
no boat, and consequently no means of rendering immediate and prompt
assistance. In such cases, it would have been too late to have got a
boat by signal from the Tender. A small boat, which could be lowered at
pleasure, was therefore suspended by a pair of davits projected from
the cook-house, the keel being about 30 feet from the Rock, as will be
seen from Plate VIII. This boat, with its tackle, was put under the
charge of James Glen, of whose exertions on the Beacon mention has
already been made, and who having in early life been a seaman, was
also very expert in the management of a boat. A life-buoy was likewise
suspended from the bridge, to which a coil of line 200 fathoms in
length was attached, which could be let out to a person falling into
the water, or to the people in the boat, should they not be able to
work her with the oars.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 6th.]

[Sidenote: Trenailing the Stones discontinued.]

The landing-master succeeded to-day in transporting 44 stones to the
Rock, and the artificers laid the Thirty-eighth course, which consisted
of 16 blocks. The trenailing and wedging of the stones being now
discontinued, as the building was above the ordinary range of the sea,
a great relief was instantly felt, as will be understood from examining
the several courses in Plate XIII.; and as the work was thereby much
simplified, it was now expected that two courses might be laid _per_

[Sidenote: Thursday, 7th.]

[Sidenote: Number of people on the Beacon. Fitting of window-hinges

To-day 12 stones were landed on the Rock, being the remainder of the
Patriot’s cargo; and the artificers built the Thirty-ninth course,
consisting of 14 stones. The Bell Rock works had now a very busy
appearance, as the Light-house was daily getting more into form.
Besides the artificers and their cook, the writer and his servant
were also lodged on the Beacon, counting in all twenty-nine; and
at low-water the landing-master’s crew, consisting of from twelve
to fifteen seamen, were employed in transporting the building
materials, working the landing apparatus on the Rock, and dragging the
stone-waggons along the railways, of which an idea will be formed by
examining Plate XVIII. There were 27 stones discharged to-day from the
Smeaton; and the artificers laid the Fortieth course of the building,
in which the windows of the water, fuel, and provision store-room
occur. The fitting of the hinge-boxes for the window storm-shutters,
occupied a considerable portion of time, as has already been described
in allusion to the entrance-door.

[Sidenote: Friday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: The comfort of good weather on the Rock.]

In the course of this day the weather varied much. In the morning it
was calm; in the middle part of the day there were light airs of wind
from the south, and in the evening fresh breezes from the east. The
barometer in the writer’s cabin in the Beacon-house oscillated from
30 inches to 30.42, and the weather was extremely pleasant. This, in
any situation, forms one of the chief comforts of life, but, as may
easily be conceived, it was doubly so to people stuck as it were upon a
pinnacle in the middle of the ocean.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: Balance-crane shifted to-day.]

The weather continued to be very agreeable, and ships every where
seen upon the sea. At the Bell Rock we had only the Tender and the
Floating-light, the Smeaton and Patriot being at Arbroath. The
Dickie praam-boat was brought from her moorings this morning, when 9
stones were landed. The artificers were chiefly occupied to-day, in
shifting the balance-crane from the top of the solid, to the top of
the staircase, across which it was supported on strong beams, while
struts were projected under the body of the crane, and butting against
the interior of the walls of the building, as will be understood by
examining the third year’s work of Plate IX. The balance-crane was,
however, so constructed, that its foot might have been allowed to rest
upon the solid of the building throughout the whole operation, and the
shaft lengthened as the building rose, by adding additional pieces,
till the whole of the masonry was completed, which would have formed
a length of shaft extending to 50 feet. It was, however, found, upon
the whole, to be more convenient and economical to lift the crane from
floor to floor as the work advanced.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 10th.]

[Sidenote: Crane erected at western Wharf.]

Although stones had hitherto been occasionally landed on the western,
as well as the eastern side of the Bell Rock, according to the state of
the weather; yet, as the railways and apparatus of the eastern creek
were much sooner in a working condition than those of the other, and
being only 90 feet from the Light-house, while the western Railway
extended to 290 feet in length, as will be seen from Plates VI. and
XVIII., the eastern creek was generally used in all directions of the
wind, when the weather was moderate. To-day, however, the wharf at the
western creek had been completed to its full extent, and one of the
moveable-beam cranes was erected at it, upon a piece of frame-work
constructed of Norway logs, forming also a platform employed in landing
the stones.

[Sidenote: Two stones upset by the Sea.]

In the course of last night, the wind had blown pretty strongly from
the S.E., and towards morning it shifted to the S.W., which created
a considerable swell of sea. Owing to the time unavoidably occupied
in the shifting the balance-crane, and fitting the brass cases for
the Lewis-bat hinges of the window-shutters of the provision-store,
together with the eagerness, and even impatience of Captain Wilson,
the landing-master, on all occasions, to get his part of the business
accomplished by the speedy delivery of the stone-vessels, he had landed
both the Thirty-first and Thirty-second courses, which were thus piled
in rather too great a number at the western side of the building.
During the night, though the range of the sea was considered trifling,
yet it had upset two of the stones, which, when the tide left the
Rock, were found lying at some distance with the Lewis-bats turned
downwards. These two courses, being too much at the mercy of the waves,
were raised to their places on the building, and, though not laid with
mortar for the present, were, nevertheless, out of the reach of heavy
seas, and more at the command of the artificers.

[Sidenote: A Praam boat is sent from the Rock with her cargo.]

Although the praam-boats, from their built, and the construction of
their moorings, rode easily with a cargo on deck, as formerly noticed,
yet a certain risk also attended this state of things, and the writer
rather wished the Smeaton and Patriot to remain at their station, with
the stones on board, until an opportunity was afforded of landing and
getting them at once laid in their places upon the building. One of
the praam-boats had, however, been brought to the Rock with 11 stones,
notwithstanding the perplexity which attended the getting of those
formerly landed taken up to the building. Mr Peter Logan, the foreman
builder, interposed, and prevented this cargo from being delivered, but
the landing-master’s crew were exceedingly averse to this arrangement,
from an idea that “ill luck” would in future attend the Praam, her
cargo, and those who navigated her, from thus reversing her voyage. It
may be noticed, that this was the first instance of a Praam-boat having
been sent from the Bell Rock with any part of her cargo on board, and
was considered so uncommon an occurrence, that it became a topic of
conversation among the seamen and artificers.

At 1 P. M. the bell rung for prayers, which were read by the writer in
the Beacon; after which the artificers went to dinner, and the work
again commenced and was continued till 9.

[Sidenote: Monday, 11th.]

The first operation of the building-artificers this morning, was to
lift the two courses laid on the top of the walls last night, and
build them with mortar; some of the stones of the upper course, in the
mean time, being stowed round the foot of the balance-crane. These two
courses consisted each of 16 stones, besides the dove-tail joggles for
connecting the perpendicular joints, as shewn in diagrams of Plate
XIII. The landing-master’s crew proceeded this morning to discharge the
Patriot, and having loaded the Hedderwick Praam-boat, she was towed to
her moorings to remain until the stones could be received at the Rock.
In the afternoon the Patriot sailed; and in the evening the Smeaton
arrived from Arbroath with another cargo, bringing also letters,
papers, provisions, water, and fuel for the Beacon.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: Stones sent from the Rock are safely landed.]

To-day the stones formerly sent from the Rock were safely landed,
notwithstanding the augury of the seamen, in consequence of their being
sent away two days before. These, together with 14 dove-tail joggles,
were immediately taken up to the top of the building, and laid, for the
present, without mortar, on the top of the Thirty-fourth course.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 13th.]

[Sidenote: Floor of the Light-room flat laid.]

The artificers were employed with the Forty-sixth course to-day, and
in making preparations for laying the Forty-seventh, being the floor
for the Light-room stores. In the afternoon and evening, the joiners
were employed in fitting up a piece of frame-work, as a centre for
supporting the interior ends of the stones composing the Floor course,
which projected from the outward face of the building towards the
centre of the apartment, as will be understood from Plates XIII. and

[Sidenote: Mr John Reid has got leave ashore, after being three months

The Floating-light having got her winter cable on board, and being
otherwise in good order, Mr John Reid, principal Light-keeper, and
acting master, while Captain Wilson was employed at the Bell Rock,
having been upwards of three months afloat, it was thought proper
that he should now have liberty for a time on shore, that, in his
turn, he might relieve Mr Wilson. Mr Taylor, commander of the
Tender, accordingly went on board of the Floating-light, leaving the
landing-master in charge of the Tender, along with his other duties at
the Rock.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 14th.]

To-day 27 stones and 11 joggle-pieces were landed, part of which
consisted of the Forty-seventh course, forming the store-room floor.
The builders were at work this morning by 4 o’clock, in the hopes of
being able to accomplish the laying of the 18 stones of this course.
But at 8 o’clock in the evening they had still two to lay, and as the
stones of this course were very unwieldy, being 6 feet in length, they
required much precaution and care both in lifting and laying them. It
was, however, only on the writer’s suggestion to Mr Logan, that the
artificers were induced to leave off, as they had intended to complete
this floor before going to bed. The two remaining stones were, however,
laid in their places without mortar, when the bell on the Beacon was
rung, and all hands being collected on the top of the building, three
hearty cheers were given on covering the first apartment. The steward
then served out a dram to each, when the whole retired to their
barrack much fatigued, but with the anticipation of the most perfect
repose even in the “hurricane-house,” amidst the dashing seas on the
Bell Rock.

[Sidenote: First letter written from the Light-house.]

While the workmen were at breakfast and dinner, it was the writer’s
usual practice to spend his time on the walls of the building, which,
notwithstanding the narrowness of the track, nevertheless formed his
principal walk, when the Rock was under water. But this afternoon he
had his writing-desk set upon the store-room floor, when he wrote to
Mrs Stevenson, certainly the first letter dated from the Bell Rock
_Light-house_, giving a detail of the fortunate progress of the work,
with an assurance that the Light-house would soon be completed at
the rate at which it now proceeded; and the Patriot having sailed
for Arbroath in the evening, he felt no small degree of pleasure in
dispatching this communication to his family.

[Sidenote: Friday, 15th.]

[Sidenote: Floors of the Bell Rock and Edystone Light-houses.]

The floor-courses of the Bell Rock Light-house lay horizontally upon
the walls, as will be seen from the sections in Plates VII. and XVI.
They consisted in all of 18 blocks, but only 16 were laid in the first
instance, as the centre-stone were necessarily left out, to allow the
shaft of the balance-crane to pass through the several apartments of
the building. In the same manner also, the stone which formed the
interior side of the man-hole, was not laid till after the centre stone
was in its place, and the masonry of the walls completed. The number of
stones above alluded to are independently of the sixteen joggle pieces
with which the principal blocks of the floors were connected, as shewn
in the diagrams of Plates VII. and XIII. The floors of the Edystone
Light-house, on the contrary, were constructed of an arch-form, and the
haunches of the arches bound with chains, to prevent their pressing
outward, to the injury of the walls. In this, Mr Smeaton followed
the construction of the Dome of St Paul’s; and this mode might also
be found necessary at the Edystone, from the want of stones in one
length, to form the outward wall and floor, in the then state of the
granite quarries of Cornwall. At Mylnefield Quarry, however, there was
no difficulty in procuring stones of the requisite dimensions; and the
writer foresaw many advantages that would arise, from having the stones
of the floors to form part of the outward walls without introducing the
system of arching: in particular, the pressure of the floors upon the
walls would thus be perpendicular; for, as the stones were prepared in
the sides, with _groove-and-feather_, after the manner of the common
house-floor, they would, by this means, form so many girths, binding
the exterior walls together, as will be understood by examining the
diagrams and section of Plate VII., with its letter-press description;
agreeably to which he had modelled the floors in his original designs
for the Bell Rock, which were laid before the Light-house Board in the
year 1800.

[Sidenote: 31 Persons lodged in the Beacon-house.]

[Sidenote: Pay and Premiums at the Rock.]

The weather still continuing favourable for the operations at the Rock,
the work proceeded with much energy, through the exertions both of the
seamen and artificers. For the more speedy and effectual working of the
several tackles, in raising the materials as the building advanced in
height, and there being a great extent of Railway to attend to, which,
required constant repairs, two additional mill-wrights were added to
the complement on the Rock, which, including the writer, now counted
thirty-one in all. So crowded was the men’s barrack, that the beds
were ranged five tier in height, allowing only about 1 foot 8 inches
for each bed, while the greatest extent of floor-room measured only
about 8 feet 6 inches across, between the beds on opposite sides, as
will be seen in the sections and diagrams of Plate VIII. The artificers
commenced this morning at 5 o’clock, and, in the course of the day,
they laid the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth courses, consisting each of
16 blocks. From the favourable state of the weather, and the regular
manner in which the work now proceeded, the artificers had generally
from four to seven extra hours’ work, which, including their stated
wages of 3s. 4d., yielded them from 5s. 4d. to about 6s. 10d. per
day, besides their board; even the postage of their letters was paid
while they were at the Bell Rock. In these advantages, the foremen
also shared, having about double the pay and amount of premiums of the
artificers. The seamen being less out of their element in the Bell Rock
operations than the landsmen, their premiums consisted in a slump sum,
payable at the end of the season, which extended from three to ten

[Sidenote: Seamen find one of the lost sets of moorings.]

As the laying of the floors was somewhat tedious, the landing-master
and his crew had got considerably beforehand with the building
artificers in bringing materials faster to the Rock than they could be
built. The seamen having, therefore, some spare time, were occasionally
employed, during fine weather, in dredging or grappling for the
several mushroom-anchors and mooring-chains, which had been lost in
the vicinity of the Bell Rock, during the progress of the work, by the
breaking loose and drifting of the floating-buoys. To encourage their
exertions in this search, Five Guineas were offered as a premium for
each set they should find; and after much patient application, they
succeeded to-day in hooking one of these lost anchors with its chain.

[Sidenote: Experiment of collecting Gas from Fishes.]

It was a general remark at the Bell Rock, as before noticed, that fish
were never plenty in its neighbourhood, excepting in good weather.
Indeed, the seamen used to speculate about the state of the weather
from their success in fishing. When the fish disappeared at the Rock,
it was considered a sure indication that a gale was not far off, as
the fish seemed to seek shelter in deeper water, from the roughness
of the sea, during these changes of the weather. At this time, the
Rock, at high-water, was completely covered with podlies, or the fry
of the coalfish, about six or eight inches in length. The artificers
sometimes occupied half an hour after breakfast and dinner in catching
these little fishes, but were more frequently supplied from the boats
of the Tender. This evening the landing-master’s crew brought to the
Rock a quantity of newly caught codfish, measuring from 15 to 24 inches
in length. The membrane called the _sound_, which is attached to the
back-bone of fishes, being understood to contain, at different times,
greater portions of azote and of oxygen than common air, the present
favourable opportunity was embraced for collecting a quantity of this
gas in a drinking-glass, inverted into a pail of salt-water. The
fish being held under this glass as a receiver, their bladders were
punctured, and a considerable quantity of gas was thus collected. A
lighted match was afterwards carefully introduced into the glass, when
the gas exhibited in a considerable degree the bright and luminous
flame which an excess of oxygen is known to produce.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 16th.]

[Sidenote: Cause of ground swells.]

The weather was hazy, and the wind had shifted to-day from west to
east, accompanied with a heavy ground-swell in the sea. At the Bell
Rock, this was sometimes observed to be the precursor of a gale,
while, on other occasions, the swell did not make its appearance till
the force of the wind had ceased. Many speculations have been made by
naturalists upon the probable cause of ground-swells, so often observed
by seamen, and which sometimes appear even without the accompaniment of
wind, either before or after. To account for this, it may be noticed,
that the waters of the German Ocean or North Sea, from their connection
with the Atlantic Ocean, are often affected by gales of westerly
winds, which never reach our shores, though they have the effect of
forcing an undue portion of the waters of the Atlantic into the British
seas, which tend to overfill all the friths and bays, producing the
phenomenon of a ground-swell;--a condition of things which may also be
supposed to follow from the account given of the gale experienced by
the writer off Flamborough-head, on the 19th September 1809, described
at page 320.; which might as readily have been checked in its progress,
by the contrary wind, before it reached the northern shores, as off the
coast of England. This subject is further illustrated by the writer in
a paper read before the Wernerian Society, on the bed of the German
Ocean, and given in the Appendix, No. V.

[Sidenote: Landing-master’s dress, and activity of his crew.]

The landing-master having this day discharged the Smeaton, and loaded
the Hedderwick and Dickie praam-boats with 19 stones, they were towed
to their respective moorings; when Captain Wilson, in consequence
of the heavy swell of sea, came in his boat to the Beacon-house, to
consult with the writer as to the propriety of venturing the loaded
praam-boats with their cargoes to the Rock, while so much sea was
running. After some dubiety expressed on the subject, in which the
ardent mind of the landing-master suggested many arguments in favour of
his being able to convey the praams in perfect safety, it was acceded
to. In bad weather, and especially on occasions of difficulty like the
present, Mr Wilson, who was an extremely active seaman, measuring about
5 feet 3 inches in height, of a robust habit, generally dressed himself
in what he called a _Monkey Jacket_, made of thick duffle-cloth, with
a pair of Dutchman’s petticoat-trowsers, reaching only to his knees,
where they were met with a pair of long water-tight boots; with this
dress, his glazed hat, and his small brass speaking-trumpet in his
hand, he bade defiance to the weather. When he made his appearance in
this most suitable attire for the service, his crew seemed to possess
additional life, never failing to use their utmost exertions when the
captain put on his “_storm-rigging_.” They had this morning commenced
loading the praam-boats at 4 o’clock, and proceeded to tow them into
the eastern landing-place, which was accomplished with much dexterity,
though not without the risk of being thrown, by the force of the sea,
on certain projecting ledges of the rock. In such a case, the loss even
of a single stone would have greatly retarded the work. For the greater
safety in entering this creek, it was necessary to put out several
warps and guy-ropes, to guide the boats into its narrow and intricate
entrance; and it frequently happened that the sea made a clean breach
over the praams, which not only washed their decks, but completely
drenched the crew in water.

[Sidenote: Want of the western wharf.]

On this, as on many other occasions, the want of the western wharf
was particularly felt; for, although it had long been used with great
advantage in the ordinary traffic of the Rock, and was now carried to
its full extent, it was still not fit for all the purposes of landing
weighty materials, otherwise the landing operations would have been
accomplished with much more ease and facility to-day. So much, however,
had been to do in boring the rock, inserting iron-bats and other
operations, accessible only at the lowest tides, that, although Mr Watt
and his squad of artificers had embraced every opportunity, by day and
night,--for this work to the last was carried on by torch light,--yet
the wharf of the western railway was not entirely completed.

[Sidenote: Operation of shifting the Balance-crane. Its properties.]

The building-artificers were employed to-day in raising the
Balance-crane to the light-room-store, where it was supported upon
two beams of oaken timber, which were made to rest upon the outward
extremity of the floor, or close to the wall of the house. The removal
of the crane from one storey to another was attended with considerable
trouble. The body of the crane, as will be understood by examining
Plates IX. and XVII., was raised upon the shaft at every two or three
courses which were added to the height of the building. This mode might
have been continued throughout, without once raising the foot of the
crane, by simply adding to the length of the shaft. But, all things
taken into view, it was considered preferable to lift the whole machine
from floor to floor. This was accomplished in the following manner: Two
beams of fir-timber were laid across the walls of the house, on which
the body of the crane was rested. This new position did not prevent the
purchase-tackle of the crane from being worked, and it was therefore
applied to lift the foot and the four lengths of the shaft, which
were laid aside till successively wanted in the course of building.
The foot, with two lengths of the shaft, being placed upon the oaken
beams above alluded to; a cutter or spear-bolt was passed through one
of the numerous holes in the shaft; when the beams on which the body
of the crane rested on the walls being removed, the crane was again
in a complete working condition. The Balance-crane had therefore the
property of being applicable to raising itself, from stage to stage,
as well as of laying the stones, and preserving its equilibrium when
loaded. In case, through inattention or accident, an undue proportion
of weight had been brought upon one end of the beam of the crane, as
was the case when the door-lintel was laid, four spurs or diagonal
supports of oak, were attached to the shaft, the lower ends of which
rested upon the floor and butted against the wall, while the upper ends
fitted into a collar or circular piece of cast-iron, which embraced
the shaft immediately under the body of the crane. These preparatory
operations occupied a great part of this day, after which there was no
further delay occasioned by the Balance-crane, till it was again to be
raised to the next floor, except the occasional lifting of the body,
and applying additional lengths to the shaft, as the building rose,
things which were accomplished without retarding the work.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: Western wharf finished to-day.]

It was fortunate, in the present state of the weather, that the
Fiftieth course was in a sheltered spot, within the reach of the tackle
of the winch-machine upon the bridge; a few stones were stowed upon
the bridge itself, and the remainder upon the building, which kept the
artificers at work. The stowing of the materials upon the Rock, was
the department of Alexander Brebner, mason, who spared no pains in
attending to the safety of the stones, and who, in the present state
of the work, when the stones were landed faster than could be built,
generally worked till the water rose to his middle. At 1 o’clock to-day
the bell rung for prayers, and all hands were collected into the upper
barrack-room of the Beacon-house, when the usual service was performed.

At low-water this afternoon all hands were employed in completing
the western wharf,--a work which had now been in progress for a
twelvemonth. One of the moveable-beam cranes was elevated on it, under
a salute of three hearty cheers. This wharf was formed of timber,
consisting of successive layers of Norway logs, like the Eastern Wharf,
as represented in Plate XI., which were raised to the level of the
Railways, or about 6 feet in height, and fixed down with bat-bars of
iron, measuring 7 feet in length, having been sunk about 12 inches into
the Rock.

[Sidenote: Remarkable state of the sea at the Bell Rock to-day.]

The wind blew very hard in the course of last night from N.E., and
to-day the sea ran so high that no boat could approach the Rock. During
the dinner-hour, when the writer was going to the top of the building
as usual, but just as he had entered the door, and was about to ascend
the ladder, a great noise was heard over-head, and in an instant he
was soused in water, from a sea which had most unexpectedly come over
the walls, though now about 58 feet in height. On making his retreat,
he found himself completely whitened by the lime which had mixed with
the water, while dashing down through the different floors; and, as
nearly as he could guess, a quantity equal to about a hogshead had come
over the walls, and now streamed out at the door. After having shifted
himself, he again sat down in his cabin, the sea continuing to run so
high that the builders did not resume their operations on the walls
this afternoon. The incident just noticed, did not create more surprise
in the mind of the writer, than the sublime appearance of the waves, as
they rolled majestically over the Rock. This scene he greatly enjoyed
while sitting at his cabin window: each wave approached the Beacon
like a vast scroll unfolding; and, in passing, discharged a quantity
of air, which he not only distinctly felt, but was even sufficient to
lift the leaves of a book which lay before him. These waves might be
10 or 12 feet in height, and about 250 feet in length. Their smaller
end being towards the north, where the water was deep, and they were
opened or cut through by the interposition of the Building and Beacon.
The gradual manner in which the sea, upon these occasions, is observed
to become calm or to subside, is a very remarkable feature of this
phenomenon. For example, when a gale is succeeded by a calm, every
third or fourth wave forms one of these great seas, which occur in
spaces, of from 3 to 5 minutes, as noted by the writer’s watch; but, in
the course of the next tide, they become less frequent, and take off,
so as to occur only in 10 or 15 minutes; and, singular enough, at the
third tide after such gales, the writer has remarked, that only one or
two of these great waves appear in the course of the whole tide.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 21st.]

[Sidenote: Landing-master’s crew have now more leisure.]

From Monday 18th till this date, the work went forward in the usual
routine, and the building was now in readiness for the floor of the
kitchen or third apartment. In the present state of things, the two
stone-vessels Smeaton and Patriot, could not be fully employed, as,
owing to the greater height of the building, every operation required
much more time, in proportion to the tonnage which the vessels brought
off to the Rock. Indeed, the original intention of providing two
vessels for this department was chiefly to guard against accident, as,
in this service, they were much exposed to danger, in the event of
which, without a second vessel, the work must have been arrested in
its progress. Having now also the full use of the western creek, the
process of landing was seldom delayed, excepting from want of demand on
the part of the builders; it was still, nevertheless, necessary to keep
up the establishment of shipping, for the reason above stated.

[Sidenote: Disagreeable state of the weather.]

The 19th was a very unpleasant and disagreeable day, both for the
seamen and artificers, as it rained throughout with little intermission
from 4 A. M. till 11 P. M., accompanied with thunder and lightning,
during which period the work nevertheless continued unremittingly; and
the builders laid the Fifty-first and Fifty-second courses. This state
of weather was no less severe upon the mortar-makers, who required to
temper or prepare the mortar of a thicker or thinner consistency, in
some measure, according to the state of the weather. From the elevated
position of the building, the mortar-gallery on the Beacon was now
much lower, and the lime buckets were made to traverse upon a rope
distended between it and the building, as will be seen from Plate IX.
On occasions like the present, however, there was often a difference
of opinion between the builders and the mortar-makers. John Watt, who
had the principal charge of the mortar, was a most active worker,
but being somewhat of an irascible temper, the builders occasionally
amused themselves at his expence. For, while he was eagerly at work
with his large iron-shod pestle in the mortar-tub, they often sent
down contradictory orders, some crying, “Make it a little stiffer,
or thicker, John,” while others called out to make it “thinner;” to
which he generally returned very speedy and sharp replies; so that
these conversations at times were rather amusing. The brass cases of
the upper-hinges of the window of this apartment, occurring in the
Fifty-second course, occasioned a good deal of detention, on the 20th,
in laying it, when the artificers were employed from 4 in the morning
till 9 in the evening.

[Sidenote: Extra pay.]

[Sidenote: Responsible situation of the principal workmen.]

During wet weather, the situation of the artificers on the top of the
building was extremely disagreeable; for, although their work did
not require great exertion, yet, as each man had his particular part
to perform, either in working the crane, or in laying the stones, it
required the closest application and attention, not only on the part
of Mr Peter Logan, the foreman, who was constantly on the walls, but
also of the chief workmen. Robert Selkirk, the principal builder, for
example, had every stone to lay in its place. David Cumming, a mason,
had the charge of working the tackle of the balance-weight, and James
Scott, also a mason, took charge of the purchase with which the stones
were laid; while the pointing the joints of the walls with cement,
was entrusted to William Reid and William Kennedy, who stood upon a
scaffold suspended over the walls in rather a frightful manner. The
least act of carelessness or inattention on the part of any of these
men might have been fatal, not only to themselves, but also to the
surrounding workmen, especially if any accident had happened to the
crane itself, while the material damage or loss of a single stone would
have put an entire stop to the operations, until another could have
been brought from Arbroath. The artificers having wrought seven and
a half hours of extra time to-day, had 3s. 9d. of extra pay, while
the foremen had 7s. 6d. over and above their stated pay and board.
Although, therefore, the work was both hazardous and fatiguing, yet the
encouragement being considerable, they were alwise very cheerful, and
perfectly reconciled to the confinement, and other disadvantages of the

[Sidenote: Carpenter of the Floating-light leaves the service.]

During fine weather, and while the nights were short, the duty on board
of the Floating-light was literally nothing but a waiting on, and
therefore one of her boats, with a crew of five men, daily attended
the Rock, but always returned to the vessel at night. The carpenter,
however, was one of those who was left on board of the ship, as he
also acted in the capacity of assistant light-keeper; being, besides,
a person who was apt to feel discontent, and to be averse to changing
his quarters, especially to work with the mill-wrights and joiners at
the Rock, who often, for hours together, wrought knee-deep, and not
unfrequently up to the middle in water. Mr Watt having, about this
time, made a requisition for another hand, the carpenter was ordered to
attend the Rock in the Floating-light’s boat. This he did with great
reluctance, and found so much fault, that he soon got into discredit
with his messmates. On this occasion, he left the Light-house service,
and went as a sailor in a vessel bound for America,--a step which,
it is believed, he soon regretted, as, in the course of things, he
would, in all probability, have accompanied Mr John Reid, the principal
Light-keeper of the Floating-light, to the Bell Rock Light-house, as
his principal Assistant. The writer had a wish to be of service to this
man, as he was one of those who came off to the Floating-light in the
month of September 1807, while she was riding at single anchor, after
the severe gale of the 7th, at a time when it was hardly possible to
make up this vessel’s crew; but the crossness of his manner prevented
his reaping the benefit of such intentions.

[Sidenote: Patriot makes a trip to Arbroath and back to the Rock, in 24

The trips of the stone-vessels became more and more remarkable for
dispatch. The Patriot having only sailed for Arbroath yesterday morning
at 8 o’clock, returned this evening at the same hour with a cargo;
when the landing-master immediately got his praam-boats alongside, and
came to the Rock with 16 stones, 8 joggles, 8 casks of pozzolano, and
the same quantity of lime and sand, with seven logs of timber for the
Railways, which were immediately taken up to the Beacon, till they were
wanted on the Rock. Such, therefore, was the dispatch given to the
loading of the materials at Arbroath, together with the persevering
activity of Mr Spink,--who had succeeded Mr Macdonald in the command of
the Patriot,--and his mate Mr Peter Soutar, that, although she did not
reach Arbroath till the morning of the 21st, at 1 o’clock, yet being
instantly loaded, she was made fast to her moorings again at the Rock,
after an absence of only 24 hours.

[Sidenote: An attempt made to land stones at high-water, with the

The weather was extremely fine to-day, and the artificers laid the
Fifty-sixth course, or kitchen-floor, forming, like the other floors
of the building, a part also of the outward wall. For supporting the
inward extremity of these long stones, until a sufficient weight was
built upon the exterior wall, the joiners had erected a piece of
frame-work on the floor below on which they rested. This morning at 4
o’clock, the landing-master’s crew had commenced their operations, and
by 12 noon 34 stones were landed, together with the several articles
mentioned above, which discharged the Patriot, and she again sailed for
Arbroath. An attempt was made to-day to land materials at high-water
with the bridge-apparatus; but, although the water was smooth, yet
there was a certain _lift in the sea_, which occasionally brought a
sudden strain on the frame of the bridge, and made the whole shake and
jerk in such a manner as to communicate a considerable degree of tremor
to the whole fabric of the Beacon-house, shewing that this mode of
landing weighty stones could hardly be ventured upon, even in the very
finest weather.

[Sidenote: Progress of landing the stones. The Seamen become

The building operations had for some time proceeded more slowly, from
the higher parts of the Light-house requiring much longer time than an
equal tonnage of the lower courses. The duty of the landing-master’s
crew had, upon the whole, been easy of late; for, though the work was
occasionally irregular, yet the stones being lighter, they were more
speedily lifted from the hold of the stone-vessel to the deck of the
praam-boat, and again to the waggons on the railway, after which they
came properly under the charge of the foreman-builder; the artificers
working the several purchase-tackles in raising the stones through the
successive stages, from the railways to the bridge, and from thence
to the top of the building, as represented in Plates IX. and XVIII.
It is, however, a strange, though not an uncommon feature in the
human character, that when people have least to complain of, they are
most apt to become dissatisfied, as was now the case with the seamen
employed in the Bell Rock service, about their rations of beer. Indeed,
ever since the carpenter of the Floating-light, formerly noticed, had
been brought to the Rock, expressions of discontent had been manifested
upon various occasions. This being represented to the writer, he sent
for Captain Wilson, the landing-master, and Mr Taylor, commander of
the Tender, with whom he talked over the subject. They stated, that
they considered the daily allowance of the seamen in every respect
ample, and that the work being now much lighter than formerly, they had
no just ground for complaint; Mr Taylor adding, that if those who now
complained “were even to be fed upon soft bread and turkeys, they would
not think themselves right.” At 12 noon, as before noticed, the work of
the landing-master’s crew was completed for the day. But at 4 o’clock,
while the Rock was under water, those on the Beacon were surprised by
the arrival of a boat from the Tender, without any signal having been
made from the Beacon. It, however, brought the following note to the
writer from the landing-master’s crew.

 _Sir Joseph Banks, Tender._


  “We are informed by our masters, that our allowance is to be as
  before, and it is not sufficient to serve us, for we have been at
  work since 4 o’clock this morning, and we have come on board to
  dinner, and there is no beer for us before to-morrow morning, to
  which a sufficient answer is required before we go from the Beacon;
  and we are, Sir, your most obedient servants.”

On reading this, the writer returned a verbal message, intimating,
that an answer would be sent on board of the Tender, at the same time
ordering the boat instantly to quit the Beacon. He then addressed the
following note to the landing-master.

[Sidenote: Correspondence with the Landing-master.]

 “_Beacon-house, 22d June 1810,
 5 o’clock, P. M._


  “I have just now received a letter purporting to be from the
  landing-master’s crew and seamen on board of the Sir Joseph Banks,
  though without either date or signature; in answer to which, I
  inclose a statement of the daily allowance of provisions for the
  seamen in this service, which you will post up in the ship’s-galley,
  and at 7 o’clock this evening I will come on board to enquire into
  this unexpected and most unnecessary demand for an additional
  allowance of beer. In the inclosed, you will not find any alteration
  from the original statement, fixed in the galley at the beginning of
  the season. I have, however, judged this mode of giving your people
  an answer, preferable to that of conversing with them on the Beacon.
  I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,

 “_To Captain Wilson_.


  “_Beacon-house, 22d June 1810._--SCHEDULE of the daily Allowance
  of Provisions to be served out on board of the Sir Joseph Banks
  Tender.”--“1½ lb. beef; 1 lb. bread; 8 oz. oatmeal; 2 oz. barley;
  2 oz. butter; 3 quarts beer; vegetables and salt no stated allowance.
  When the seamen are employed in unloading the Smeaton and Patriot,
  a draught of beer is, as formerly, to be allowed from the stock of
  these vessels. Further, in wet and stormy weather, or when the work
  commences very early in the morning, or continues till a late hour
  at night, a glass of spirits will also be served out to the crew as
  heretofore, on the requisition of the Landing-master.”


[Sidenote: Writer goes on board of the Tender.]

On writing this letter and schedule, a signal was made on the Beacon
for the landing-master’s boat, which immediately came to the Rock,
and the schedule was afterwards stuck up in the Tender’s galley. When
sufficient time had been allowed to the crew to consider of their
conduct, a second signal was made for a boat, and at 7 o’clock the
writer left the Bell Rock, after a residence of four successive weeks
in the Beacon-house. The first thing which occupied his attention on
board of the Tender, was to look round upon the Light-house, which he
saw with some degree of emotion and surprise, now vieing in height
with the Beacon-house; for, although he had often viewed it from the
extremity of the western Railway on the Rock, yet the scene, upon the
whole, seemed far more interesting from the Tender’s moorings, at the
distance of about half a mile.

[Sidenote: Two of the Seamen are dismissed the service.]

The Smeaton having just arrived at her moorings with a cargo, a signal
was made for Captain Pool to come on board of the Tender, that he might
be at hand to remove from the service any of those who might persist in
their discontented conduct. One of the two principal leaders in this
affair, being the master of one of the praam-boats, and who had also
steered the boat which brought the letter to the Beacon, was first
called upon deck, and asked if he had read the statement fixed up in
the galley this afternoon, and whether he was satisfied with it. He
replied that he had read the paper, but was not satisfied, as it held
out no alteration on the allowance; on which he was immediately ordered
into the Smeaton’s boat. The next man called had but lately entered the
service, and being also interrogated as to his resolution, he declared
himself to be of the same mind with the Praam-master, and was also
forthwith ordered into the boat. The writer, without calling any more
of the seamen, went forward to the gangway, where they were collected,
and listening to what was passing upon deck: he addressed them at
the hatchway, and stated that two of their companions had just been
dismissed the service, and sent on board of the Smeaton, to be conveyed
to Arbroath. He therefore wished each man to consider for himself,
how far it would be proper, by any unreasonableness of conduct, to
place themselves in a similar situation, especially as they were aware
that it was optional in him either to dismiss them, or send them on
board a Man-of-war. It might appear that much inconveniency would be
felt at the Rock by a change of hands at this critical period, by
checking for a time the progress of a building so intimately connected
with the best interests of navigation; yet this would be but of a
temporary nature, while the injury to themselves might be irreparable.
It was now, therefore, required of any man who, in this disgraceful
manner, chose to leave the service, that he should instantly make his
appearance upon deck, while the Smeaton’s boat was alongside. But those
below having expressed themselves satisfied with their situation, viz.
William Brown, George Gibb, Alexander Scott, John Dick, Robert Couper,
Alexander Shephard, James Grieve, David Carey, William Pearson, Stuart
Eaton, Alexander Lawrence, and John Spink, were accordingly considered
as having returned to their duty. This disposition to mutiny, which had
so strongly manifested itself, being now happily suppressed, Captain
Pool got orders to proceed for Arbroath Bay, and land the two men he
had on board, and to deliver the following letter at the office of the

 “_On Board of the Tender off the Bell Rock,
 22d June 1810. 8 o’clock P. M._


  “A discontented and mutinous spirit having manifested itself of
  late, among the Landing-master’s crew, they struck work to-day,
  and demanded an additional allowance of beer, and I have found
  it necessary to dismiss D----d and M----e, who are now sent on
  shore with the Smeaton. You will, therefore, be so good as to pay
  them their wages, including this day only. Nothing can be more
  unreasonable than the conduct of the seamen on this occasion, as the
  landing-master’s crew not only had their own allowance on board of
  the Tender, but, in the course of this day, they had drawn no fewer
  than 24 quart pots of beer from the stock of the Patriot, while
  unloading her.

 “I remain, yours truly,

 “_To Mr Lachlan Kennedy,       }
 Bell-Rock Office, Arbroath._”  }

On dispatching this letter to Mr Kennedy, the writer returned to the
Beacon about 9 o’clock, where this afternoon’s business had produced
many conjectures, especially when the Smeaton got under way, instead of
proceeding to land her cargo. The bell on the Beacon being rung, the
artificers were assembled on the bridge, when the affair was explained
to them. He, at the same time, congratulated them upon the first
appearance of mutiny being happily set at rest by the dismissal of its
two principal abettors.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 23d.]

[Sidenote: Progress of the Works at Arbroath.]

The Smeaton having landed the disaffected men and delivered the
letter, returned to the Bell Rock last evening at 8 o’clock, when the
landing-master and his crew immediately proceeded to discharge her,
leaving the loaded praams at their moorings for the night. By letters
from the work-yard from Mr David Logan, clerk of works, the writer
learned, that, when the two courses which the stone-cutters had now in
hand were completed, there would only be one more to prepare, and that
already several of the masons were about to be paid off.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: The Works are visited by Mr Murdoch of Soho.]

At the Rock, the landing of the materials, and the building operations
of the light-room-store, went on successfully, and in a way similar to
those of the provision-store. To-day it blew fresh breezes; but the
seamen nevertheless landed 28 stones, and the artificers built the
Fifty-eighth and Fifty-ninth courses. The works were visited by Mr
Murdoch junior, from Messrs Boulton and Watt’s works of Soho. He landed
just as the bell rung for prayers; after which the writer enjoyed much
pleasure from his very intelligent conversation: and having been almost
the only stranger he had seen for some weeks, he parted with him, after
a short interview, with much regret.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 27th.]

[Sidenote: Sixty-second course laid.]

There were 46 pieces of stone landed to-day, 16 of which were built,
being the Sixty-second course, in which the upper brass cases for the
hinges of the storm-shutters occurred, each of which weighed about
25 lb., or 100 lb. for the four cases with their hinges. The sole or
foot of the balance-crane was also shifted, an operation which became
necessary at the height of about every 16 feet of the Light-house;
and it was now raised from the store-room to the kitchen-floor. The
shaft of the crane consisted of one piece of 8 feet, and three of 6
feet, making its whole length 26 feet, of which, about 7 feet were
occupied with the body and foot of the crane. The operations of laying
the courses in which the hinge-cases of the storm-shutters of the
different windows occurred, like those of the entrance-door, being very
tedious, the Beacon-bell was rung this morning at the very early hour
of 3 o’clock, and as the work continued till half-past 9 at night, the
artificers had 8 hours and a half’s extra work, which yielded them 4s.
3d. of extra pay.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 28th.]

[Sidenote: Workmen wetted by the sea on the top of the walls.]

The Sixty-third and Sixty-fourth courses were laid to-day, consisting
of 16 stones each. Last night the wind had shifted to north-east,
and blowing fresh, was accompanied with a heavy surf upon the Rock.
Towards high water it had a very grand and wonderful appearance. Waves
of considerable magnitude rose as high as the solid or level of the
entrance-door, which, being open to the south-west, was fortunately to
the leeward; but on the windward side, the sprays flew like lightning
up the sloping sides of the building; and although the walls were now
elevated 64 feet above the Rock, and about 52 feet from high-water
mark, yet the artificers were nevertheless wetted, and occasionally
interrupted in their operations on the top of the walls. These
appearances were in a great measure new at the Bell Rock, there having
till of late been no building to conduct the seas, or object to compare
them with. Although, from the description of the Edystone Light-house,
the mind was prepared for such effects, yet they were not expected to
the present extent, in the summer season; the sea being most awful
to-day, whether observed from the Beacon or the Building. To windward,
the sprays fell from the height above noticed, in the most wonderful
cascades, and streamed down the walls of the building in froth as white
as snow. To leeward of the Light-house, the collision or meeting of
the waves produced a pure white kind of _drift_, which is attempted
to be represented in the Frontispiece to this work: it rose about 30
feet in height, like a fine downy mist, which, in its fall, felt upon
the face and hands more like a dry powder than a liquid substance.
The effects of these seas, as they ranged among the beams, and dashed
upon the higher parts of the Beacon, produced a temporary tremulous
motion throughout the whole fabric, which to a stranger must have been

[Sidenote: Saturday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: Mr John Reid’s Report on the Floating-light.]

The artificers laid the Sixty-fifth course to-day, forming the
fourth or bed-room floor. They had, however, no extra hours’ work, a
circumstance which had not occurred for several weeks before. Although,
from the rapid progress which was now making with the Building, there
was every prospect that it would be finished in the course of this
year; yet, as the Light-room and its apparatus were very critical parts
of the operation, which would necessarily fall to be transported to
the Rock at a late period of the season, and were, consequently, liable
to many casualties, it was proper to make provision for continuing the
Floating-light for another winter, in case the light should not be
exhibited from the Light-house. This vessel had now been on her station
for three years; and as she lay at anchor in 19 fathoms water, it had,
consequently, been impossible thoroughly to examine her bottom. What
rendered her state more uncertain, was the condition of the logs of
timber employed for supporting the temporary Railways on the Rock for
nearly a similar period. These logs were of the common Norway-fir, and
when laid down measured about ten inches upon each side; but after
lying about three years on the Rock, they were so much wasted by the
small insect formerly mentioned, that they would not now square to more
than 7 inches, without leaving traces of the ravages of this animal,
having thereby lost at the rate of about one-half inch on each side
of sound timber per annum. Directions had been given to Mr John Reid,
who, during the summer months, had the command of the Floating-light,
and who was also professionally a ship-carpenter, to take a convenient
opportunity of trimming the vessel, in such a manner as to give her a
_list_ first to one side and then to the other, so as to get her bottom
as fully examined as possible. This having been done, Mr Reid intimated
that he considered her in a sound state. The writer accordingly left
the Beacon-house to-day, accompanied by the landing-master, to see
some of the side-planks which had been _dubbed_ or dressed with a
carpenter’s adze, and, on examination, he had the satisfaction to
find that they appeared perfectly fresh. This was a matter of some
consequence to the work, as it must have been attended with great
inconvenience, to have removed such a vessel as the Floating-light,
and put another in her place, even for a short period. After this
inspection, the writer returned to the Rock, having previously
requested of Mr Reid to make a report in writing, which he did in the
following terms:

 “_Pharos Floating-Light, off the Bell Rock,
 30th June 1810._


  “According to your orders, I have, on several occasions, during this
  month, _careened_ the Float, and inspected her bottom as much as
  possible while the vessel is at anchor; but I can see no appearance
  of the wood-worm in any part of it. There is indeed plenty of
  sea-weed, mussels, and red-worms (creatures with many feet), but it
  is not this kind of worm that perforates the planks of shipping;
  and as this destructive animal generally makes its appearance
  between wind and water, I am apt to believe that the Pharos’
  bottom is perfectly sound and healthy. With regard to the beam and
  knee observed to be _working_ a little, I will send a note of the
  scantling of the timber that will be necessary for securing it, to Mr
  Dickie, the carpenter, at Arbroath. I, for one, have no objections
  to another winter on board, without further repairs; for though she
  rolls heavily in the trough of the sea, yet she has, upon the whole,
  been a very kindly ship to me.--I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,

  “To Mr Stevenson.

 JOHN REID, _Carpenter_.”

[Sidenote: 1810, July.]

[Sidenote: Narrow escape of one of the Masons.]

While William Kennedy, one of the masons, was stepping off the bridge
into the entrance-door of the Light-house, one of the cast-iron slips
of the balance-weight of the crane, weighing about 70 lb., fell from
the top of the building and grazed his left shoulder, but, fortunately,
in so gentle a manner, that it hardly ruffled the skin; a few inches
nearer, it would have carried away his arm or killed him on the spot.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 1st.]

[Sidenote: Writer describes his Cabin.]

The artificers laid 12 stones to-day, and the seamen landed no fewer
than 34 blocks.--The writer had now been at the Bell Rock since the
latter end of May, or about six weeks, during four of which he had
been a constant inhabitant of the Beacon, without having been once off
the Rock. After witnessing the laying of the Sixty-seventh or second
Course of the bed-room apartment, he left the Rock with the Tender, and
went ashore, as some arrangements were to make for the future conduct
of the works at Arbroath, which were soon to be brought to a close;
the landing-master’s crew having, in the mean time, shifted on board
of the Patriot. In leaving the Rock, the writer kept his eyes fixed
upon the Light-house, which had recently got into the form of a house,
having several tiers or storeys of windows. Nor was he unmindful of
his habitation in the Beacon, now far overtoped by the masonry; where
he had spent several weeks in a kind of active retirement, making
practical experiment of the fewness of the positive wants of man. His
cabin measured not more than 4 feet 3 inches in breadth on the floor;
and though, from the oblique direction of the beams of the Beacon, it
widened towards the top, yet it did not admit of the full extension of
his arms when he stood on the floor; while its length was little more
than sufficient for suspending a cot-bed during the night, calculated
for being triced up to the roof through the day, which left free
room for the admission of occasional visitants. His folding-table
was attached with hinges, immediately under the small window of the
apartment, and his books, barometer, thermometer, portmanteau, and
two or three camp-stools, formed the bulk of his moveables. His diet
being plain, the paraphernalia of the table were proportionally simple;
though every thing had the appearance of comfort, and even of neatness,
the walls being covered with green cloth, formed into pannels with
red tape, and his bed festooned with curtains of yellow cotton-stuff.
If, in speculating upon the abstract wants of man in such a state
of exclusion, one were reduced to a single book, the Sacred Volume,
whether considered for the striking diversity of its story,--the
morality of its doctrine,--or the important truths of its Gospel, would
have proved by far the greatest treasure.

[Sidenote: Monday, 2d.]

[Sidenote: Case of George Dall, an impressed seaman.]

In walking over the work-yard at Arbroath this morning, the writer
found that the stones of the course immediately under the cornice were
all in hand, and that a week’s work would now finish the whole; while
the intermediate courses lay ready numbered and marked for shipping
to the Rock. Among other subjects which had occupied his attention
to-day, was a visit from some of the relations of George Dall, a young
man who had been impressed near Dundee in the month of February last:
A dispute had arisen between the Magistrates of that borough and the
Regulating Officer as to his right of impressing Dall, who was _bona
fide_ one of the protected seamen in the Bell Rock service. In the
mean time, the poor lad was detained, and ultimately committed to the
prison of Dundee, to remain until the question should be tried before
the Court of Session. His friends were naturally very desirous to
have him relieved upon bail. But as this was only to be done by the
judgment of the Court, all that could be said was, that his pay and
allowances should be continued in the same manner as if he had been
upon the sick-list. The circumstances of Dall’s case, were briefly
these. He had gone to see some of his friends in the neighbourhood
of Dundee, in winter, while the works were suspended, having got
leave of absence from Mr Taylor, who commanded the Bell Rock Tender,
and had in his possession one of the Protection Medals, represented
in Plate XII., and alluded to at page 209. Unfortunately, however,
for Dall, the Regulating-Officer thought proper to disregard these
documents, as, according to the strict and literal interpretation of
the Admiralty regulations, a seaman does not stand protected unless
he is actually on board of his ship, or in a boat belonging to her,
or has the Admiralty-protection in his possession. This order of the
Board, however, cannot be rigidly followed in practice; and therefore,
when the matter is satisfactorily stated to the Regulating-Officer,
the impressed man is generally liberated. But in Dall’s case this
was peremptorily refused, and he was retained at the instance of
the Magistrates. The writer having brought the matter under the
consideration of the Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses, they
authorised it to be tried on the part of the Light-house Board, as one
of extreme hardship. The Court, upon the first hearing, ordered Dall to
be liberated from prison; and the proceedings never went further.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 3rd.]

[Sidenote: Magistrates of Arbroath visit the Bell Rock.]

During the three years in which the operations of the Bell Rock
Light-house had been in progress, the Magistrates of the Royal Burgh
of Arbroath, where the work-yard was established, had shewn the
utmost attention in forwarding the works, by every means in their
power. In particular, a free or peculiar birth had been given to the
vessels of the Light-house service, where a crane was permitted to
be erected; and the building materials were allowed to be reshipped
for the Light-house, without any additional charge for shore-dues.
Indeed, the whole community of this town seemed to view the work, and
those concerned with the operations, in a very favourable manner. The
writer was therefore happy, at this time, in having an opportunity of
giving effect to an arrangement long talked of, with the Magistrates
and some of their friends, of taking a sail to the Bell Rock, to see
the progress of the works. This having been accordingly intimated to
Provost Airth, he gladly embarked in the Tender, along with two of
the former Chief-Magistrates, Balfour and Milne, and Bailies Duncan,
Fleming, Anson, Wightman, and Kid, together with Mr John Colville,
Town-Clerk, Messrs Bruce, Bell, Balfour, Johnston, Christie and
Lindsay, &c. in all sixteen. The vessel sailed from Arbroath at an
early hour, but the weather became thick and foggy, with the wind at
S.E., and it was 2 o’clock P. M., before she reached her moorings at
the Rock, which being then covered with water, the party had to wait
till about 6 before a landing could be made. During these four hours,
the vessel had a very unpleasant rolling motion: the party cast many a
weary look towards the Rock for its appearance; and, on landing, much
satisfaction was expressed at getting a firm footing upon the railways.
The party soon began to clamber up to the Beacon, and, after examining
all its parts, crossed the bridge, but only a few ventured to the top
of Light-house, from the narrowness of the passages, and difficult
position of the ladders. After spending fully three hours upon the
Rock, the water began to rise upon the Railways, when the gentlemen
again embarked, and were greeted with cheers from the workmen. The
wind being fair, and the weather pleasant, the Tender soon reached
Arbroath, when the party landed, much delighted with their trip, while
the writer was not a little pleased at having thus had an opportunity
of gratifying so many of his friends.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: Number of Artificers on the Rock reduced to 22.]

The artificers had yesterday laid the Sixty-eighth course of the
building, consisting of 16 stones, of which 10 had also been landed.
The Tender having returned from Arbroath this afternoon, the
landing-master’s crew left the Patriot, and took up their quarters
again on board of the Tender. The artificers lodged in the Beacon
had of late varied from twenty-six to thirty-one in number; but the
Railways being finished, the work now admitted of their being reduced
to twenty-two. During the time that the Rock was covered with water,
and materials could not be landed, the masons were employed in dressing
off and repolishing any inequalities which appeared on the interior
walls of the different apartments. The raising of stones from the
waggons on the Rock to the top of the building, now about 80 feet
in height, had become rather a tedious operation. The lift with the
balance-crane in particular being upwards of 45 feet, it required some
precaution and trouble in coiling such a length of chain upon the
barrel. It therefore became necessary to lessen this operation, by
placing a winch-machine on the store-room floor, and projecting a beam
from the western window, to form a stage in taking up the stones, as
will be understood by examining the third year’s work of Plate IX., and
the general view of the operations at the Rock represented in Plate

[Sidenote: Narrow escape of the Smeaton at the Bell Rock. Advantage of

Being now within twelve courses of being ready for building the
cornice, measures were taken for getting the stones of it and the
parapet-wall of the Light-room brought from Edinburgh, where, as before
noticed, they had been prepared, and were in readiness for shipping.
The honour of conveying the upper part of the Light-house, and of
landing the last stone of the building on the Rock, was considered
to belong to Captain Pool of the Smeaton, who had been longer in the
service than the master of the Patriot. The Smeaton was therefore now
partly loaded with old iron, consisting of broken railways and other
lumber, which had been lying about the Rock. After landing these at
Arbroath, she took on board James Craw, with his horse and cart,
which could now be spared at the work-yard, to be employed in carting
the stones from Edinburgh to Leith. Alexander Davidson and William
Kennedy, two careful masons, were also sent to take charge of the
loading of the stones at Greenside, and stowing them on board of the
vessel at Leith. The writer also went on board, with a view to call
at the Bell Rock, and to take his passage up the Frith of Forth. The
wind, however, coming to blow very fresh from the eastward, with thick
and foggy weather, it became necessary to reef the mainsail, and set
the second-jib. When in the act of making a tack towards the Tender,
the sailors who worked the head sheets were all of a sudden alarmed
with the sound of the smith’s hammer and anvil on the Beacon, and had
just time to put the ship about to save her from running ashore on the
north western point of the Rock, marked “James Craw’s horse,” in Plate
VI. On looking towards the direction from whence the sound came, the
Building and Beacon-house were seen, with consternation, while the ship
was hailed by those on the Rock, who were no less confounded at seeing
the near approach of the Smeaton, and, just as the vessel cleared
the danger, the smith and those in the mortar-galley made signs in
token of their happiness at our fortunate escape. From this occurrence
the writer had an experimental proof of the utility of the large
Bells which were in preparation to be rung by the machinery of the
Revolving-light; for, had it not been the sound of the smith’s anvil,
the Smeaton, in all probability, would have been wrecked upon the Rock.
In case the vessel had struck, those on board might have been safe,
having now the Beacon-house as a place of refuge; but the vessel, which
was going at a great velocity, must have suffered severely, and it was
more than probable that the horse would have been drowned, there being
no means of getting him out of the vessel. Of this valuable animal and
his master, both delineated in Plate X., we shall take an opportunity
of saying more in another part of the work.

[Sidenote: The Artificers on the Beacon greatly alarmed.]

The weather cleared up in the course of the night, but the wind shifted
to the N.E., and blew very fresh: and it was with difficulty that a
communication could be made with the Tender, after which the Smeaton
bore away for Leith about 7 A. M. At 9 she was abreast of Fifeness, and
at half-past 1 P. M. got safely into Leith harbour, after a passage
of about six hours, which was fully the quickest which the writer
had made from the Bell Rock to Leith, a distance of about 88 miles.
From the force of the wind, being now the period of spring-tides, a
very heavy swell was experienced at the Rock: at 2 o’clock on the
following morning, the people on the Beacon were in a state of great
alarm about their safety, as the sea had broke up part of the floor
of the mortar-gallery, which was thus cleared of the lime-casks, and
other buoyant articles; and the alarm-bell being rung, all hands were
called to render what assistance was in their power for the safety of
themselves and the materials. At this time, some would willingly have
left the Beacon and gone into the Building: the sea, however, ran so
high, that there was no passage along the bridge of communication;
and when the interior of the Light-house came to be examined in the
morning, it appeared that great quantities of water had come over the
walls, now 80 feet in height, and had run down through the several
apartments, and out at the entrance-door. From this state of things the
work was stopped for two days, in the course of which the joiners got
the mortar-gallery refitted, and the landing-master’s crew supplied it
with a fresh stock of materials for making mortar. Notwithstanding this
state of the sea upon the Rock, the Tender and Patriot still kept at
their moorings. Such, indeed, was the practice of the seamen, in this
kind of life, that, unless when the wind blew from N.W., or in such a
direction as made the vessels ride with their sterns towards the Rock,
they never thought of moving from their moorings, unless the vessels
were deeply loaded.

[Sidenote: Progress of the Light-room works.]

On reaching Edinburgh, the writer found the Light-room and
Reflecting-apparatus in considerable forwardness at the Greenside
Company’s works. He had also received advice from Prescot, that the
plate-glass for the windows would soon be in a state of readiness; and
Messrs Meirs and Son of London intimated, that they would cast the
Bells at any time, on receiving a week or ten days notice. The only
article connected with the light-room, regarding which there was a
doubt, was the coloured glass for distinguishing the light, which had
long since been commissioned from Mr Okey of London, who, though a very
ingenious artist, was rather an irregular correspondent.

[Sidenote: Works at Arbroath completed.]

The upper course of the Light-house at the work-yard of Arbroath, was
completed on the 6th, and the whole of the stones were therefore now
ready for being shipped to the Rock. The operations of the hewers
or stone-cutters were thus brought very nearly to a close: only the
23 steps of the stone staircase of the Light-house remained to be
dressed; and this piece of work was reserved for some of the principal
masons, on their return from the Rock, as the steps could not be
conveniently built until the balance-crane and other bulky apparatus
were removed from the building. From the present state of the works,
it was impossible that the two squads of artificers at Arbroath and
the Bell Rock could meet together at this period; and as, in public
works of this kind, which had continued for a series of years, it is
not customary to allow the men to separate without what is termed
a “Finishing-pint,” five guineas were for this purpose placed at
the disposal of Mr David Logan, clerk of works. With this sum the
stone-cutters at Arbroath had a merry-meeting in their barrack,
collected their sweethearts and friends, and concluded their labours
with a dance. It was remarked, however, that their happiness on this
occasion was not without alloy. The consideration of parting, and
leaving a steady and regular employment, to go in quest of work, and
mix with other society, after having been harmoniously lodged for years
together in one large “Guildhall or Barrack,” was rather painful.
The completion of this part of the work at Arbroath was felt as an
era in the Light-house affairs, by admitting of the discharge of so
considerable a number of the artificers. Mr David Logan, by this means
also, got off to the Bell Rock, having been hitherto chiefly confined
to the operations ashore.

[Sidenote: Mr Smeaton’s daughter visits the Light-house works at

While the writer was at Edinburgh, he was fortunate enough to meet
with Mrs Dickson, only daughter of the late celebrated Mr Smeaton,
whose works at the Edystone Light-house had been of such essential
consequence to the operations at the Bell Rock. Even her own elegant
accomplishments are identified with her father’s work, she having
herself made the drawing of the vignette on the title-page of the
Narrative of the Edystone Light-house. Every admirer of the works of
that singularly eminent man, must also feel an obligation to her for
the very comprehensive and distinct account given of his life, which
is attached to his Reports, published in three volumes quarto, by the
Society of Civil Engineers. Mrs Dickson being, at this time, returning
from a tour to the Hebrides and Western Highlands of Scotland, had
heard of the Bell Rock works, and from their similarity to those of
the Edystone, was strongly impressed with the desire of visiting the
spot. But, on inquiring for the writer at Edinburgh, and finding
from him that the upper part of the Light-house, consisting of nine
courses, might be seen in the immediate vicinity, and also, that one
of the vessels which, in compliment to her father’s memory, had been
named “The Smeaton,” might also now be seen in Leith,--she considered
herself extremely fortunate; and having first visited the works at
Greenside, she afterwards went to Leith to see “The Smeaton,” then
loading for the Bell Rock. On stepping on board, Mrs Dickson seemed
to be quite overcome with so many concurrent circumstances, tending
in a peculiar manner to revive and enliven the memory of her departed
father; and, on leaving the vessel, she would not be restrained from
presenting the crew with a piece of money. “The Smeaton” had been named
spontaneously, from a sense of the obligation which a public work of
the description of the Bell Rock owed to the labours and the abilities
of Mr Smeaton. The writer certainly never could have anticipated the
satisfaction which he this day felt, in witnessing the pleasure it
afforded to the only representative of this great man’s family. Mrs
Dickson’s stay in Edinburgh was short, as, in seeing so much of the
Bell Rock works, she had accomplished the chief object which brought
her to this side of the country. On her return to the neighbourhood
of Kendal, the place of her residence, she had the kindness to send
the writer a portrait of her father, together with the vignette of the
Edystone Light-house.

[Sidenote: Mr David Logan joins the Works at the Rock.]

At the Bell Rock, Mr Peter Logan, foreman builder, was reinforced
by the able and active exertions of his son Mr David Logan, who was
now relieved from attendance at the work-yard of Arbroath, where the
stone-cutters had just completed their operations. In the mean time,
the walls of the Light-house were progressively rising, and, on Friday
the 6th, the artificers laid the Seventy-first course, consisting of 16
stones, and shifted the foot of the Balance-crane from the kitchen to
the bed-room, about 42 feet above the bridge. A considerable time was,
therefore, occupied in raising a stone from thence to the top of the
building. To remedy this, as formerly alluded to, a beam was projected
from the western window of the light-room store, where a winch-machine
and apparatus were placed, with which the stones were raised from the
bridge to the level of the window-sill. The chain of the balance-crane
was then lowered, and hooked into the Lewis-bat of the stone, which
was thus hoisted up, and laid in its place on the building, as will be
fully understood by examining the progress of the work in Plate IX.
This additional tackle from the store-room window gave a wonderful
facility to the operation of raising the stones; for, though the time
of working upon the walls of the building was now extended to the whole
day, yet the period of landing the materials upon the Rock was still
unavoidably confined to the few hours during which it was left by the
tide at low-water.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 7th.]

[Sidenote: The Patriot is seven days in being cleared of a cargo.]

The landing-master’s crew commenced at 4 o’clock this morning, and
transported 24 blocks of stone and 8 dove-tailed joggles to the Rock
in the course of the day, which cleared the Patriot of her cargo,
when she sailed for Arbroath, having now been no less than 7 days on
the birth. This was, therefore, the most tedious trip since the first
cargo of this season, which, as before noticed, had been on board of
the Smeaton for 11 days. The stones landed to-day could not be raised
to the top of the building, as the joiners had possession of the upper
apartment, where they were fixing the framing used for supporting the
floor-stones, while building. The stones were, in the mean time, left
chiefly on the Rock, though a few were laid upon the bridge.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 8th.]

[Sidenote: Progress of raising the Stones.]

To-day the Seventy-second course was laid. The mill-wrights, in the
mean time, made preparations for fitting up another winch-apparatus
on the bed-room floor, similar to that already described for the
store-room, by projecting a beam from its western window, which was to
form another stage for lifting the materials. When, therefore, a stone
was landed on the Rock, and conveyed along the Railways, within reach
of the winch-apparatus upon the bridge, and raised to its level, it was
next hooked by the chain of the winch on the store-room floor: having
attained that height, it was laid hold of by the chain of the machinery
on the bed-room floor; and last of all, it was hooked to the chain of
the balance-crane, by which it was raised to the top of the walls and
laid in its place. The series of machinery now in motion on the Bell
Rock, was very complete, and gave great facility to the landing of the
materials. A set of tackle was at work at the landing-cranes on the
eastern and western side of the Rock, for lifting the stones from on
board of the Praam-boats, and laying them on the waggons: from thence
they were wheeled along the Railways to the bridge; from which they
were successively lifted, as has been described, by the machinery upon
it; then by that in the store-room; next by that in the bed-room, and
last of all by the balance-crane,--as will be more particularly seen
in the third year’s work of Plate IX., and in the General View of the
Works, Plate XVIII.

[Sidenote: Monday, 9th.]

[Sidenote: Last cargo of stone shipped at Arbroath.]

At Arbroath, the Patriot had now loaded the last cargo of building
materials from that port, consisting of 65 pieces of stone, 4
dove-tailed joggles, 18 casks of pozzolano, lime, sand, and cement,
with three cart-loads of timber, and the necessary supplies of
provisions for the Tender and Beacon-house. From the interest which
the inhabitants of Arbroath took in all that concerned the Bell Rock
Light-house, it soon became generally known that the last cargo from
the work-yard was loading. Upon this occasion, the ships in the harbour
hoisted their colours, in compliment to the approaching termination of
the works; and, at 7 P. M., a great concourse of people collected on
the quays, who united in giving three hearty cheers, as the Patriot
sailed from the harbour. At the Bell Rock, the building-artificers
were at a stand to-day for want of materials, and were employed in
dressing off and polishing the interior of the building, while the
landing-master’s crew were removing lumber from the Rock, which,
for the present, was put on board of the Tender. The joiners and
mill-wrights were occupied in framing a centre for building the
dome-roof of the library.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 10th.]

The Patriot reached her moorings this morning, but it was then blowing
a fresh gale from W.S.W., and the Tender’s boat had much difficulty in
getting her hawser _reeved_ through the eye-bolt of the floating-buoy.
No materials could be landed on the Rock to-day.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 11th.]

The weather being moderate, with the wind at S.E., the landing-master’s
crew proceeded this morning to discharge the Patriot at the early hour
of 3 o’clock; and in the course of the day, 30 blocks and 2 dove-tailed
joggles of stone, and 7 casks of pozzolano, lime, and sand, were
landed, besides some timber, which occupied them till 8 o’clock P. M.,
with little intermission. During this time also, the artificers laid
the Seventy-third course, consisting of 16 stones.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 12th.]

[Sidenote: Library Floor laid.]

The building-artificers laid the Seventy-fourth course to-day, being
the floor of the library or strangers’ room, which, like the others,
consisted altogether of 18 stones; but of the floor courses, as before
noticed, only sixteen stones were laid in the first instance, the
centre and the stone connected with the man-hole being left for the
conveniency of moving the machinery as the building advanced in height.
The seamen landed 25 blocks of stone, and the remaining 2 dove-tailed
joggles which discharged the Patriot; and at 2 P. M. she sailed for
Leith, to load a cargo of the upper courses of the Light-house, which
had been worked at Edinburgh. The artificers on the Rock were now
reduced to 22, there having been 6 of their number sent ashore at this
time. The Smeaton having loaded 48 stones at Leith, with sundry other
materials, arrived to-day at the Bell Rock; but the praams were still
at their moorings, loaded with part of the former cargo, which the
builders could not yet receive.

[Sidenote: Friday, 13th.]

To-day the building-artificers laid the Seventy-fifth and Seventy-sixth
courses, consisting each of 12 stones, and the seamen landed 11 stones,
being the remainder of the Patriot’s cargo.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 14th.]

The Seventy-seventh and Seventy-eighth courses were laid to-day: the
landing-master’s crew discharged 26 blocks of stone, and 20 dove-tailed
joggles from the Smeaton, and landed them on the Rock. As it blew very
fresh from the S.W., it was a hard day’s work for the seamen, who
commenced this morning as early as 2 o’clock to load the praam-boats,
and it was between 7 and 8 in the evening before the boats returned on
board of the Tender for the night.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 15th.]

The artificers laid the Seventy-ninth and Eightieth courses to-day,
consisting of 12 stones each, and had no less than seven and a half
hours of extra time, having been at work from 4 o’clock this morning
till 9 in the evening, owing to some difficulty which occurred in
laying the course, in which the upper storm-hinge cases occurred.

[Sidenote: Monday, 16th.]

[Sidenote: Ring-bar course laid.]

[Sidenote: Floors described.]

The artificers laid the Eighty-first course, consisting of 12 stones
from Craigleith Quarry, being one of these worked at Edinburgh, in
which a groove, for an iron-ring, was cut, as an additional security
for the superincumbent weight of the cornice. In the First course of
the Dome of St Paul’s of London, a continuous chain had been sunk
into a groove, in order to bind the haunches of the arch more firmly
together. Mr Smeaton, alluding to this in his Narrative, also inserted
a chain into each of his floor-courses at the Edystone Light-house.
Being of an arched form, these chains inserted into grooves, cut in the
haunch-courses of arches, have a tendency to counteract their pressure
outwards. At the Bell Rock, the writer, however, designed the floors in
such a manner that each projected from the outward wall of the building
towards the centre, and the whole being grooved in a lateral direction,
in the joints, like the deals of a common floor, became as one stone,
having a perpendicular pressure upon the walls. Even in the dome-roof
of the library, though it has a spherical appearance within, yet the
stones are all laid upon horizontal beds, the dome being formed by
hollowing the under beds, and making them overlap or project inward
beyond each other, the pressure being still perpendicular upon the
walls, instead of thrusting outwards, as in the case of an arch.

[Sidenote: Description of the Ring-bar.]

Instead of a continuous chain, as at the Edystone arches, the
writer here introduced a flat-bar of the best Swedish iron into the
Eighty-first course, having been previously connected in three pieces
with _scarf-joints_ and screwed bolts, with nuts. This bar was set
on edge in the building: it measured 3 inches in depth, 1 inch in
thickness, and was in weight about 400 lb. avoirdupois. This bar
was fitted into a groove 3 inches in width, and 4 inches in depth,
cut in the upper bed of the course. The bar having been heated as
nearly as might be to the temperature of about 150 or 160 degrees of
Fahrenheit, it was floated or run up flush with lead, in a very careful
and complete manner by Mr John Gibson, plumber of Leith, who entered
so much into the spirit of this work, that he attended the operation
himself: no pains was, therefore, spared in having this body of melted
lead properly connected with the circular bar of iron. By this means
the iron was preserved from the accession of moisture, and, being much
stronger than copper, it was preferred to that more ductile metal. The
stones of this course were soon laid, but the artificers were occupied
so long with the application of the ring-bar, that they had been at
work from 4 in the morning till 8 in the evening. The Smeaton being
discharged, sailed again for Leith, to take on board the last cargo
of stones for the Light-house. The artificers could only receive 7
blocks of stone and 7 joggles to-day: the Hedderwick Praam-boat was
accordingly left at her moorings with the remainder of the Smeaton’s
cargo still on board.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 17th.]

[Sidenote: The Dome course occupies much time in laying.]

The seamen landed 2 casks of pozzolano and lime, 4 joggles and 6 blocks
of stone, which discharged the praam-boats. The artificers laid 8
stones of the Eighty-second course, forming part of the dome-roof of
the library. This course consisted of 16 stones, which were attended
with much more difficulty than those of the ordinary courses: from
their projecting into the apartment, and being also more easily
injured, they required more precaution in laying and in the fitting of
the joggles. The artificers were therefore at work to-day from 4 in the
morning till half-past 8 in the evening, in laying one-half of this
course. From the prevalence of S. W. winds, the Patriot only reached
Leith at one P. M. yesterday, and commenced loading this morning, when
she took on board 32 pieces of stone. The Smeaton having also arrived
at Leith this afternoon, both vessels were now off the station, and
it was found necessary to dispatch one of the Floating-light’s boats
to Arbroath, for a supply of pozzolano, lime, and sand, and also for
provisions for the people at the Rock.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 18th.]

[Sidenote: Landing-master’s crew reduced in number.]

The building-artificers laid the remaining 8 stones of the
Eighty-second course to-day, and had three and a half hours of extra
time. The landing-master’s crew having no materials to land upon the
Rock, were employed to-day in collecting a variety of articles, and
clearing the Building and Beacon of implements not now wanted, which
were carried on board of the Tender. The Floating-light’s boat returned
this afternoon from Arbroath, and immediately landed her cargo. The
landing-master’s crew had for some time past been reduced to nine men,
being little more than was necessary for working the Tender when she
got under way; but at the Rock they had the daily assistance of a boat
and five men from the Floating-light.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 19th.]

[Sidenote: Patriot driven from the Rock.]

The Patriot arrived at the Bell Rock this evening at 9 o’clock, with
a cargo of the cornice-stones; but, as it blew a fresh gale from the
N.E., the Tender’s boat could not make fast her hawser to the moorings,
and she was obliged to stand in for the Bay of Arbroath. There being,
of course, no building materials on the Rock, the artificers were
employed in dressing off and polishing some of the joints in the
interior of the Light-house. At high-water to-day, it being now the
time of spring-tides, there was a great deal of sea upon the Rock:
considerable sprays rushed up to the smith’s gallery on the Beacon, and
the water occasionally rose in jets to the height of 40 feet upon the

[Sidenote: Friday, 20th.]

[Sidenote: Ceremony observed at loading the last stone at Leith.]

The gale from the N.E. still continued so strong, accompanied with
a heavy sea, that the Patriot could not approach her moorings; and,
although the Tender still kept her station, no landing was made to-day
at the Rock. At high-water, it was remarked, that the spray rose to
the height of about 60 feet upon the building. The Smeaton now lay
in Leith loaded; but the wind and weather being so unfavourable for
her getting down the Frith, she did not sail till this afternoon. It
may here be proper to notice, that the loading of the centre of the
Light-room floor, or last principal stone of the building, did not
fail, when put on board, to excite an interest among those connected
with the work. When the stone was laid upon the cart, to be conveyed
to Leith, the seamen fixed an ensign-staff and flag into the circular
hole in the centre of the stone, and decorated their own hats, and that
of James Craw’s, the Bell Rock carter, with ribbons; even his faithful
and trusty horse Bassey, was ornamented with beaus and streamers of
various colours. The masons also provided themselves with new aprons;
and, in this manner the cart was attended in its progress to the ship.
When the cart came opposite the Trinity-House of Leith, the officer of
that Corporation made his appearance, dressed in his uniforms, with
his staff of office; and when it reached the harbour, the shipping
in the different tiers where the Smeaton lay, hoisted their colours,
manifesting, by these trifling ceremonies, the interest with which
the progress of this work was regarded by the public, as ultimately
tending to afford safety and protection to the mariner. The wind had
fortunately shifted to the S.W.; and about 5 o’clock this afternoon the
Smeaton reached the Bell Rock. The writer had also the satisfaction
soon afterwards to see the Patriot made fast to her moorings; but there
was still too much sea to admit of landing upon the Rock.

[Sidenote: Monday, 23d.]

[Sidenote: Many Strangers visit the present interesting state of the

The present interesting state of the Light-house, which had now
attained the height of 90 feet, induced a great many strangers to
visit the Bell Rock, while the machinery was in operation, and the
Light-house and Beacon were connected with the wooden-bridge; and
beams were projected from the windows of the store-room and bed-room,
for the suspension of the tackle with which the stones were raised.
The Stone-lighters and Tender also lay in the offing at this time,
while the Praam-boats were occasionally at the landing creeks on the
eastern and western sides of the Rock, delivering the stones, which
were afterwards wheeled along the railways. The whole, as shewn in
Plate XVIII., afforded great pleasure, and excited the surprise of
many visitants, who often endured much hardship in open boats, on a
passage of from 12 to 20 miles, from the shore. Two parties, under
these circumstances, landed to-day, among whom were Messrs Gellatly and
Macpherson, accountants, from the Greenside works at Edinburgh. This
being the fifth day of the gale, much relief was felt at the Rock on
the arrival of the boats.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 24th.]

[Sidenote: Difficulty of landing and raising the stones of the Cornice.]

At 6 o’clock this morning, Captain Wilson and his people left the
Tender to load the praam-boats with stones from the Patriot, so as
to be ready at tide time for landing them on the Rock. In the course
of this day, the whole of the Eighty-third, and 2 stones of the
Eighty-fourth courses were landed in safety, which greatly relieved the
writer’s mind as to the practicability of landing the stones of the
Eighty-fifth course, forming the balcony-walk and light-room floor, as
shewn in Plates XIII. and XVI. The stones of this course measured 7½
feet in length, and weighed upwards of one ton each. For the safety of
these unwieldy and more delicately formed stones, Captain Wilson had
made some very judicious arrangements. In particular, he had procured
pieces of matting, and the seamen of the Tender and Floating-light had
been at work for some time, preparing additional defenders, made of
old ropes. By a proper application of these, the stones went safely
through the progressive stages of being taken from the hold of the
Smeaton, and laid on the decks of the praam-boats, after which they
were delivered by the landing-apparatus on the Bell Rock, laid on the
stone-waggons, conveyed along the railway to a centrical position
under the bridge, and raised by four different sets of tackles to the
top of the building, as will be understood by examining Plates IX.
and XVIII. These several movements were fortunately accomplished with
all the stones, without even a trifling injury being done to any of
them. The writer, in the course of this day’s work, remarked, that,
from the time that one of these large blocks was laid upon the waggon
at the landing-apparatus, till it reached the top of the building,
then about 95 feet in height, it required, on an average of eight
observations, at the rate of 14 minutes for each. Though the number of
stones landed to-day was only 18, yet there being still some remains
of sea from the former gale, much care and attention became necessary
in the management of these unhandy materials. The landing-master’s
crew, who were frequently working up to the middle in water, were
occupied till 10 o’clock at night before they returned to the Tender.
The building-artificers were no less constantly employed, though they
only laid 8 stones of the Eighty-fourth course to-day, after continuing
their operations till 9 o’clock P. M.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 25th.]

[Sidenote: Eighty-fourth course completed.]

The landing-master’s crew commenced their operations again this
morning at 6, and, in the course of the day, they landed 10 stones
of the Eighty-fifth, being the course immediately under that of
the balcony; together with 14 dove-tailed joggles for the joints,
as will be understood by examining the diagrams of Plate XIII. The
building-artificers laid the remaining 8 stones of the Eighty-fourth
course. The Patriot having been cleared this evening of her cargo,
sailed to Arbroath for a supply of water and provisions for the people
on the Rock, as the stock at this time was getting low, from the
vessels having of late been much off the station, while employed in
bringing the stones from the work-yard at Edinburgh.

[Sidenote: Eight stones of the Balcony course laid.]

The building-artificers having now 8 blocks of the Eighty-fifth or
Balcony course at hand, which, in one length, formed the balcony-path
and Light-room-floor, excepting the centre-stone, as will be seen
from the diagrams in Plate XIII., above alluded to, they commenced
work at 4 o’clock this morning; but such was the difficulty attending
the laying and fitting the joggled joints of these long stones, that
it was 10 P. M. before they were laid: they had, therefore, no fewer
than eight extra hours to-day, which yielded the high rate of 7s. 6d.
to the workmen, and 15s. to the foremen, besides their stated wages
and provisions. The landing-master’s crew transported the remaining 8
blocks of the balcony to the Rock; and, when the last stone was raised
in safety through its various stages to the top of the building, three
cheers were given by all hands.

[Sidenote: Thursday, 26th.]

[Sidenote: Balcony course completed.]

The winds were still moderate, but it rained very heavily at times,
and the artificers were very uncomfortably situate on the top of the
walls. They, however, persevered in completing the laying of the
balcony-course under every disadvantage. The Patriot returned to the
Rock this afternoon, with a supply of provisions and necessaries; when
she was dispatched to Mylnefield Quarry, for the first cargo of stones
for the establishment of houses at Arbroath, about to be erected for
the use of the families of the Bell Rock Light-keepers, it being only
intended to lodge the keepers themselves at the Rock.

[Sidenote: Friday, 27th.]

[Sidenote: Eighty-sixth course built.]

The artificers had finished the laying of the Balcony-course, excepting
the centre stone of the light-room floor, which, like the centres of
the other floors, could not be laid in its place till after the removal
of the foot and shaft of the balance-crane. This stone was accordingly
left on board of the Smeaton, to be landed with the last cargo. The
Eighty-sixth course, consisting of 8 stones, being the first of the
Parapet-wall of the light-room, was landed and built. During the dinner
hour, when the men were off work, the writer generally took some
exercise by walking round the walls, when the Rock was under water. But
to-day his boundary was greatly enlarged, for, instead of the narrow
wall as a path, he felt no small degree of pleasure in walking round
the balcony, and passing out and in at the space allotted for the
light-room door. In the labours of this day, both the artificers and
seamen felt their work to be extremely easy, compared with what it had
been for some days past.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 29th.]

The building-artificers laid the Eighty-seventh and Eighty-eighth
courses, consisting each of 8 stones; and having made another long
day’s work, they had eight extra hours pay. The landing-master’s crew
transported 2 casks of pozzolano, 2 of lime, and 2 of sand, with 23
blocks of stone, to the Rock, which completed the landing of the
masonry of the exterior walls of the Light-house. Immediately before
dinner the bell was rung, and all hands being assembled, prayers were
read as usual in the artificers’ barrack-room.

[Sidenote: Ceremony observed at landing the last stone.]

Captain Wilson and his crew had made preparations for landing the last
stone, and, as may well be supposed, this was a day of great interest
at the Bell Rock. “That it might lose none of its honours,” as he
expressed himself, the Hedderwick praam-boat, with which the first
stone of the building had been landed, was appointed also to carry the
last. At 7 o’clock this evening, the seamen hoisted three flags upon
the Hedderwick, when the colours of the Dickie Praam-boat, Tender,
Smeaton, Floating-light, Beacon-house, and Light-house, were also
displayed, and the weather being remarkably fine, the whole presented a
very gay appearance, and, in connection with the associations excited,
the effect was very pleasing. The praam which carried the stone was
towed by the seamen in gallant style to the Rock, and, on its arrival,
cheers were given as a finale to the landing department.

[Sidenote: Monday, 30th.]

[Sidenote: Ceremony at laying the last stone of the walls.]

The Ninetieth or last course of the building having been laid to-day,
which brought the masonry to the height of 102 feet 6 inches, the
Lintel of the light-room door, being the finishing-stone of the
exterior walls, was laid with due formality by the writer, who, at
the same time, pronounced the following benediction: “May the Great
Architect of the Universe, under whose blessing this perilous work has
prospered, preserve it as a guide to the Mariner.”

[Sidenote: Tuesday, 31st.]

[Sidenote: Machinery partly dismantled.]

The artificers were employed to-day in taking down the tackle and
machinery from the store-room and kitchen-floors, which were put on
board one of the praam-boats, and conveyed to the Tender. The joiners
were assisted at low-water by some of the seamen, in preparing the
lower parts of the beams of the Beacon-house, for receiving a coat of
hot pitch and tar, as usual, before winter, to defend them against the
ravages of the insect which, as before noticed, had made a considerable
impression on the soles of the beams, where they rested upon the Rock.
The Patriot had sailed for Mylnefield Quarry; and the Smeaton, being
now discharged, left the Rock for Lord Elgin’s works at Charlestown, to
load limestone for the light-keepers’ houses, to be built at Arbroath.
The Tender continued at her moorings, and took on board from time to
time such implements and apparatus as were no longer wanted at the
Rock. The Floating-light, from the uncertainty attending the period of
finishing the light-room and its apparatus, and consequent exhibition
of the light from the building, had, perhaps, a long time yet to remain
at her station; but one of her boats was to be regularly sent with five
seamen, to assist at the operations on the Rock as formerly.

[Sidenote: 1810, August.]

[Sidenote: Wednesday, 1st.]

[Sidenote: Foot and shaft of Balance-crane taken down.]

The artificers and seamen were employed to-day, as yesterday, in
clearing the building of lumber, and in coating the beams of the Beacon
with a mixture of tar and pitch. The _body_ of the Balance-crane was
also supported with beams on the walls of the light-room, in such a
manner that its machinery could be applied to lowering its foot and
shaft down through the apertures left for this purpose in the floors
of the several apartments. The machinery of this useful implement thus
supported, was yet to be used in laying centre-stones in the floors of
the store-room, kitchen, bed-room, library and light-room; and also in
taking up the cast-iron sash-frames and other weighty apparatus of the

[Sidenote: Thursday, 2d.]

The several apartments of the building being now entirely cleared
of the tackle and apparatus connected with raising the materials,
the artificers were in readiness for laying the centre-stones of the
several floors.

[Sidenote: Friday, 3d.]

[Sidenote: Lord Kellie with a party visits the Bell Rock.]

This morning, between 7 and 8 o’clock, the works of the Bell Rock were
visited by the Earl of Kellie, the Honourable Mr Methven Erskine, Mr
David Monypenny, Sheriff of Fifeshire and one of the Commissioners
of the Northern Light-houses (now Lord Pitmilly), and his Lordship’s
brother, Mr Alexander Monypenny. The party had left Cambo-house,
upon the coast of Fife, at an early hour; but the wind being from
the south-west, and blowing fresh, had rendered their passage very
uncomfortable. When the boat reached the Tender, the party came on
board, as it was too early in the tide for landing on the Rock, which
was still under water; but when the railways made their appearance,
the party proceeded to the western-wharf, and Lord Pitmilly having
been the first of the Light-house Commissioners who had landed here,
it was named _Pitmilly Wharf_. After viewing the Rock, which was now
partially dry, they ascended to the Beacon-house, and passed along the
bridge, with all its difficult steps, to the Light-house, where the
servants had contrived to cover a table, made up with detached planks,
on which the first breakfast was laid out in the Bell Rock Light-house.
After having gone over the whole of the works, they left the Rock about

[Sidenote: Centre-stone of the Light-room floor laid by the writer.]

At 3 P. M., the necessary preparations having been made, the artificers
commenced the completing of the floors of the several apartments,
and at 7 o’clock the centre-stone of the light-room floor was laid,
which may be held as finishing the masonry of this important National
Edifice. After going through the usual ceremonies observed by the
Brotherhood on occasions of this kind, the writer, addressing himself
to the artificers and seamen who were present, briefly alluded to the
utility of the undertaking, as a monument of the wealth of British
Commerce, erected through the spirited measures of the Commissioners of
the Northern Light-houses, by means of the able assistance of those who
now surrounded him. He then took an opportunity of stating, that toward
those connected with this arduous work, he would ever retain the most
heartfelt regard in all their interests.

[Sidenote: Saturday, 4th.]

[Sidenote: Artificers leave the Rock.]

When the bell was rung, as usual, on the Beacon this morning, every
one seemed as if he were at a loss what to make of himself. There was,
however, upon the whole, still much to do to the Light-house, which is
only yet to be considered in the state of a house with its outward wall
built; but, before being useful or habitable, it must be roofed over,
internally finished, and provided with the necessary furniture and
utensils. At this period, the artificers at the Rock consisted of 18
masons, 2 joiners, 1 mill-wright, 1 smith, and 1 mortar-maker, besides
Messrs Peter Logan and Francis Watt, foremen, counting in all 25; and
matters were arranged for proceeding to Arbroath this afternoon with
all hands, as it now became necessary to new-model the works there.
The Sir Joseph Banks Tender had by this time been afloat, with little
intermission, for six months, during the greater part of which the
artificers had been almost constantly off at the Rock, and were now
much in want of necessaries of almost every description. Not a few
had lost different articles of their clothing, which had dropped into
the sea from the Beacon and Building; some wanted jackets, others,
from want of hats, wore night-caps; each was, in fact, more or less
curtailed in his wardrobe, and, it must be confessed, that at best, the
party were but in a very tattered condition. This morning was occupied
in removing the artificers and their bedding on board of the Tender;
and although their personal luggage was easily shifted, the boats had,
nevertheless, many articles to remove from the Beacon-house, and were
consequently employed in this service till 11 A. M. All hands being
collected and just ready to embark, as the water had nearly overflowed
the Rock, the writer, in taking leave, after alluding to the harmony
which had ever marked the conduct of those employed on the Bell Rock,
took occasion to compliment the great zeal, attention and abilities
of Mr Peter Logan and Mr Francis Watt, foremen, Captain James Wilson,
landing-master, and Captain David Taylor, commander of the Tender,
who, in their several departments, had so faithfully discharged the
duties assigned to them, often under circumstances the most difficult
and trying. The health of these gentlemen was drunk with much warmth
of feeling by the artificers and seamen, who severally expressed the
satisfaction they had experienced in acting under them; after which,
the whole party left the Rock.

[Sidenote: The writer meets with his assistants ashore.]

In sailing past the Floating-light, mutual compliments were made by a
display of flags between that vessel and the Tender; and at 5 P. M.
the latter vessel entered the harbour of Arbroath, where the party
were heartily welcomed by a numerous company of spectators, who had
collected to see the artificers arrive, after so long an absence from
the port. In the evening, the writer invited the foremen and captains
of the service, together with Mr David Logan, clerk of works at
Arbroath, and Mr Lachlan Kennedy, engineer’s clerk and book-keeper,
and some of their friends, to the principal Inn, where the evening
was spent very happily; and after “His Majesty’s health,” and “The
Commissioners of the Northern Light-houses,” had been given, “Stability
to the Bell Rock Light-house” was hailed as a standing toast in the
Light-house service.

[Sidenote: Sunday, 5th.]

The author has formerly noticed the uniformly decent and orderly
deportment of the artificers who were employed at the Bell Rock
Light-house, and to-day, it is believed, they very generally attended
church, no doubt, with grateful hearts for the many narrow escapes
from personal danger which all